City of Fitchburg

Ald. Dan Carpenter has resigned from his Common Council seat after moving out of the district he represented.

The District 3, Seat 6 alder was elected four times and served six years on the council, including four as president. He was in the early part of a one-year term after running unopposed in April.

His resigned effective Friday, May 31.

In a media statement, Carpenter wrote that he and his wife purchased a home in the Wildwood neighborhood, in District 2, and are “thrilled to make Fitchburg our long-term home.”

“I am thankful to the voters of District 3 for entrusting me to represent them and be their voice at City Hall,” Carpenter said in the statement. “I am proud of the work we accomplished together and I will treasure the friendships I have made with my colleagues, constituents and residents throughout the city.”

As of last month, he did not have any plans of running for elected office – he’s busy enough handling home ownership, he said – but he plans to be out and about in Fitchburg.

“I’ll definitely stay involved in the community,” Carpenter said. “The thing I’m most grateful, I’ve learned a lot about local government and development and various businesses.”

Throughout his time on the council, he regularly spoke about the need for affordable housing ownership options in the city, and in a telephone interview with the Star, he pointed out a bit of irony in having to step down because he could not find a house in his district.

“We looked in District 3, but there was nothing that really fell in our budget and was something that we liked,” he told the Star. “We’re thrilled we were able to make it our long-term home, but it was frustrating for me as an alder for District 3 looking at the market and realizing the only thing we could afford was a condo.”

The council will now have to fill the seat until next April’s election.

According to the city notice, an appointment is expected in August after interviews at the July 24 Committee of the Whole meeting. Applicants must submit their resume and nomination papers by July 5 to be considered.

Among the significant decisions that could now come before a less-than-whole council are an amendment to the North Stoner Prairie Neighborhood plan – which was the subject of a mayoral tiebreaker last year – and the Comprehensive Plan rewrite timeline. Carpenter has been a strong advocate for lowering the density allowed near the corner of Lacy Road and Seminole Highway in the North Stoner Prairie Neighborhood, an issue that drew concerns from area residents after the developer proposed apartment buildings last year.

He said density is a significant issue for constituents, as he heard opposition to apartments often in his years as an alder.

“The number one thing that residents are upset with, especially in District 3 and District 4, is the way we’re growing,” Carpenter said. “I think the results from the last election show that.”

He also suggested the push for density in planning has contributed to the turnover in the mayor’s seat – he served with four different mayors in his four terms – and that it may be more about that push for density from staff.

“Maybe the reason that there’s turnover in the mayor’s chair is because people are unhappy with the agenda that they’re seeing from City Hall,” Carpenter said. “The mayor is held accountable every election by the voters, and if the voters don’t like what’s going on, they’re gonna vote for somebody else.”

The council is also facing a lawsuit over the process of considering a senior housing project for South Fish Hatchery Road. A changed related to the properties that proposal was for was approved at the May 27 meeting after a 50-minute closed session.

Alders only entered closed session after a 4-4 tie vote. Carpenter was among the four votes to not go into closed session.

Carpenter said he is most proud of the accomplishments that “aren’t very flashy,” like adding yield signs at an uncontrolled intersection in Quarry Hill or changing parking restrictions to open up a roadway.

“They’re the things that make a positive difference in the neighborhood, and that ultimately has a positive impact on the residents’ daily life,” he said.

Contact Scott Girard at ungreporter@wcinet.com and follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.