North Stoner Prairie proposal

A new plan for the corner of Lacy Road at Seminole Highway in the North Stoner Prairie Neighborhood would construct a mix of single-family and twin homes.

City of Fitchburg

The number of housing units allowed in part of the North Stoner Prairie Neighborhood has been reduced after the plan got the Common Council’s approval in June.

The contentious comprehensive plan amendment, which had been sent back and forth between the council and Plan Commission four times before the June 25 vote, limits the allowed zoning to nine units per acre.

Alders had supported the plan since early last year, but the Plan Commission had favored it remaining high density or allowing up to 16 units per acre. The city’s attorney had offered the opinion that the bodies needed to pass the same amendment for it to go into effect.

Since the last time the Plan Commission had voted prior to its June 18 meeting, three new members had joined the commission.

The council was responding to concerns from residents in the area over a 2017 change that allowed high density and an ensuing proposal for an apartment complex.

Ald. Janell Rice (Dist. 3) ran for her seat in this April’s election after speaking regularly at council meetings in support of the nine units per acre plan, and she said June 25 she was glad to see the amendment approved.

“This has been a long time coming, almost two years, thousands of hours, countless meetings to ultimately put a plan in place that was promised years ago,” Rice said.

Ald. Tom Clauder (D-4), who was one of the sponsors of the amendment to go to nine units per acre, said it was “a new day.”

“Time to turn the page,” Clauder said.

A new development proposal on that lot at the corner of Seminole Highway and Lacy Road received positive comments from commissioners June 18, but was not reviewed by the council. It would build 72 single-family and 46 twin homes.

“I look at this, and I think it’s a great product in that area, and I think it’s gonna be very popular,” said Mayor Aaron Richardson, who chairs the commission.

The proposal was brought only for initial review, but a representative for developer Veridian said the company hopes to start construction in spring 2020 after going through the development process later this year.

The North Stoner plan originally allowed up to six units per acre. It had been amended in 2017 to allow high density, and there were no complaints from the public at the time.

But when developer Chris Ehlers proposed an apartment building in 2018, residents and some alders came out strongly against it and worked to change the plan back to its original density limitation.

The council repeatedly approved bringing the limit back down to medium density last year and earlier this year, but the commission voted differently, leaving it in limbo.

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