As the subdivisions on Verona’s south side fill and construction on the north side is just starting, developers are starting to look to the east for the city’s next expansion.
The Town of Verona farm fields on Fitchburg’s western border have been planned as future residential growth for many years, but the 201-acre, 600-home Doerfer-Suddeth plan between Grandview and Whalen roads is the first attempt that would involve the City of Verona.
Verona-based Forward Development Group brought the idea to city staff in August, and the Plan Commission is scheduled to review the proposal at its Dec. 3 meeting. It has many hurdles to overcome, including establishing water service, getting state approval for expanding Verona’s urban service boundaries, earning approval from Fitchburg and ensuring the county roads that link to it are up to date.
The east side of the town has been farmed for generations, with landowners in that area keeping an eye on Verona’s development in recent decades. Development there was a key question in discussions in the city-town merger effort that failed in 2008.
The Town of Verona established the Wendelwood subdivision around Goose Lake in the 1970s, but limitations of Verona’s urban services and Fitchburg’s jurisdiction over that area have squashed any proposals since, including a 43-acre housing development directly to the south of that in 2006.
City development and a deal with the town have enabled the new proposal. In the past five years, the Liberty Business Park has developed along Whalen Road, including new utility lines. In 2016, the city and town signed an agreement that smooths out the annexation and development process in many areas, including the east side.
The plan being brought to the commission shows the streets and parks and a general transition from denser development on the southwest corner to larger lots on the north side, plus a 13-acre chunk marked “institutional or residential” – which the submission says could be a school – on Fitchrona Road. It also cuts out more than 20 acres of existing farmsteads or homes that would not be developed within the rectangular block.
The plan includes some sections of homes of community residential zoning lots – the city’s densest, between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet – which the city considered abolishing earlier this year, as well as some lots even smaller than that, which would need a separate approval process.
Overall, it contains 86 acres of single-family housing and 38 acres of “open space,” including stormwater ponds, which the submission says is intended to “create a network of greenways providing both connectivity to larger stormwater features but also (with) recreational paths.”
The concept will be presented to both the commission and the Common Council. If they and the developer agree, it would need to go through several months of various other approvals, including adding it into Verona’s urban service area (which allows sewer connections) and going through extraterritorial review from Fitchburg.