The Nov. 24 Gazette editorial regarding the proposed development near the Briar Crest subdivision omitted crucial factors of the project and again labeled Briar Crest residents as difficult. Developer Zach Knutson’s pitch to Briar Crest residents to build single-family homes and duplexes, although better than the proposal two years ago, leaves unanswered questions and a lot to be desired.
The city of Janesville is in need of affordable market-rate housing and rental properties. Knutson described the homes he intends to build as “higher end” with a price tag just south of $300,000. The duplexes would also be built with no basements, leaving storage for renters to the garage or exterior. When pushed on rental costs, Knutson said the rent would be “significantly high” and would not commit to his ownership of the duplexes or whether he plans to farm them out to a property management entity.
The traffic study completed two years ago was done before the I-90/39 reconstruction project and the Milton Avenue on-ramp reconfiguration. Briar Crest residents and anyone shopping or dining in the Deerfield Drive area know how congested the traffic now is. The proposed entrance to the new subdivision is currently a crosswalk for the city’s bike path. The city made it clear there will be no additional turn lanes into the new subdivision and that a new traffic study is not warranted. This clearly raises both traffic and safety concerns for nearby residents and the general public.
Knutson stated the homes and duplexes would be built as the lots are sold and not all at once. That would mean residents along the property line on Danbury Drive and Rotamer Road potentially could be subjected to 10 to 15 years of heavy construction. Not only does that mean a noisy next decade for residents but more traffic at the subdivision entrance.
Along with the new development, the city is proposing the bike path be expanded to run into the dead end street of Devon Drive, which runs into the middle of Danbury Drive. That would make that small area a destination trailhead for bike path users and make that small street a parking area. With the added volume of vehicles in that area, this causes great concern for Danbury Drive residents, especially those with children.
The Gazette opinion department has labeled Briar Crest residents as a not-in-my-backyard group (NIMBY). The Gazette is using decades-old monikers and outdated assumptions to label these residents as difficult and NIMBYs. Perhaps Gazette staff should put on their walking shoes, knock on some doors and talk to residents about their concerns with this project instead of making inferences about the attitudes of Briar Crest residents.
To have safety concerns and standards of quality for one’s own neighborhood is not being difficult. It’s being responsible. Any neighborhood is a small community. And like any community, we care about where we live and the safety and comfort it provides.
The award-winning Gazette and the city of Janesville should be more inclined to care more about local matters and the personal investment of its residents than to promote the financial investment of a development group.