A plan to put 12 four-unit townhomes on the north edge of the Bergamont subdivision got a mixed response from the Village of Oregon Planning Commission last week.
Most commissioners were hesitant to allow five of those buildings along County Hwy. CC, in a spot currently zoned for commercial development.
“I still have to kind of dig my heels in a little bit on the commercial space up against CC,” said commissioner John Bieno. “As we continue to develop to the west and as the roads continue to develop arterially into Madison itself, you will start to see more business interest along this corridor, as well.”
The other seven townhomes, which would be further south and to the east of Bergamont Boulevard, were more generally acceptable to the commissioners. The presentation at the Oct. 5 meeting was only conceptual and did not include a vote by the commission.
A 2011 proposal to build apartment buildings in the same spot commissioners debated Thursday drew strong opposition from the community, including the Bergamont Homeowners Association, with 14 people speaking against the idea during a public comment portion of a meeting in 2013. Then-president of the BHA Andrew Seitz reported that 311 homeowners from the village’s west side had signed a petition asking the Planning Commission and Village Board to deny the necessary rezoning for that proposal.
Any change to the zoning for the new townhome proposal would also require altering the comprehensive plan, which would include a public hearing.
Craig Raddatz of Fiduciary Real Estate Development explained that their other townhomes in the area have had “success” and that he did not anticipate any commercial interest in the area anytime soon.
“It’s hard for me to imagine coming in here and proposing any commercial use … I just don’t envision what that would be,” Raddatz said. “To us, this is a significant down zone and going with the flow of what this has become.”
In a letter introducing the proposal, Raddatz wrote that it had been 17 years since the area was originally envisioned, “but clearly nothing has materialized to support that original vision.”
“Across the street over 10 acres of commercial lies vacant, and in our 10 years of ownership we have had only two interested parties, both of them gas station operations,” he wrote.
Some commissioners also had concerns about the multi-family housing being too close to single-family properties that had been built with certain expectations of privacy.
“Historically, we try not to have multifamily backed up against single family,” said commission chair Greg Schnelle. “We’d want to make sure that there’s no reaction, or if that reaction from neighbors is such that berming from the residence would be satisfactory.”
Every commissioner who spoke except Patrick Molzahn expressed a desire to give it more time to develop commercial interest, though Schnelle said he did not expect them to “hold this forever for commercial.”
“We don’t want to send you away saying, ‘No, that’ll never be what you’re proposing,’” he told Raddatz. “Could change our minds in a month, could change our minds in six months, two years.”
Raddatz said Fiduciary would be back next month, with at least the seven townhomes proposed for the south east corner that did not draw opposition.