North plan coving

An example of streets in the “coving” pattern presented in the North development.

What could be the final step of a plan for 170 acres on Verona’s burgeoning north side is getting evaluated by the city’s Plan Commission on Monday, July 1.

This version of the plan for the area southwest of the intersection of county hwys. M and PD is the sixth that has been presented in public meetings, and it’s fundamentally similar to what was presented in April. It features 266 single-family homes and a 12-acre spot for a future school within a network of winding roads, an extensive trail system and “linear parks” in place of more traditional neighborhood parks, as well as a 9-acre conservancy park.

Another related 40 acres next to M is included in the plat but being developed separately with commercial buildings and apartments.

There will be a public hearing for the proposal at the meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. The hearing is necessary because it requires an update to the state-mandated comprehensive plan. The commission will be asked to make a recommendation, and the Common Council could make a decision the following Monday.

Comprehensive plans put future land use plans in context of demographics, transportation, regional planning and environmental concerns, among other things, and land-use decisions municipalities are required by the state to conform with the plan.

Alders voted 7-1 in April to approve the preliminary plat, but they expressed reservations about several parts of the plan at the time, including the use of “pocket parks” – green spaces smaller than neighborhood parks – inside cul-de-sacs and a stormwater area as part of its parkland dedication requirement. The submission, by Forward Development Group, shows a combined half-acre of pocket parks, reduced from a previous version of the plan but consistent with what was presented in April.

The Parks, Recreation and Urban Forestry Commission reviewed the plan Wednesday, June 19, and recommended not accepting pocket parks within the developer’s required parkland dedication and providing half credit for the stormwater area.

The proposal is an unusual form for a subdivision, with 2.5 miles of trails forming “linear parks” along winding roads. The concept of it received a warm welcome from the beginning, though the execution – such as a mile of retention walls in one version and a “traffic calming” jog to the right on a street city planners wanted to go straight through – has complicated the city’s response.

The Verona Area School District’s request to leave space for a potential school also slowed progress on the plan, which Forward Development Group has modified several times since bringing to the city in late 2017.

FDG told the city its conservancy park – which also doubles as a large stormwater basin – would be adorned with boardwalks, plantings and signage promoting birds and wildlife.

A previous version of the plan showed buildout in four phases from 2019-2022, starting with the easternmost 80 acres, but this version does not include such dates and reduces it to two phases.

Up for review Monday is the final plat, which is normally somewhat of a formality as long as it is consistent with the preliminary plat, for the entire 210 acres, as well as the general development plan for all but the East 40 off M.

The GDP, seeking concurrent approval, is the second step of the three-step planned-unit district process, showing the location and size of the main elements of the site. For housing units, the final step does not go through a public process, but rather building permitting.

Email Verona Press editor Jim Ferolie at veronapress@wcinet.com.