An updated plan to build hundreds of houses and apartments on the city’s north side is going to the Plan Commission on Monday with a recommendation for denial by the city planning director.

The unusual general layout and concept of the proposed 200-acre Whispering Coves subdivision has been in front of the Common Council and commission three times each, and it’s in general been welcomed, albeit with some reservations.

The word “coves” refers to winding roads throughout that are designed to improve sight lines among neighbors and enable a layout connected by a trail system that would encompass most of the dedicated parkland. After some initial conflicts were resolved related to including a spot for a potential elementary school, alders and commissioners were supportive but said execution of the unusual arrangement would be critical.

The most notable flaws in the newest submission that planning director Adam Sayre said he could not support are the high retaining walls. The new plan has almost a mile of them, ranging from four feet to 16 feet, he said.

Other concerns with the plan were the location of the school, which would be on a 12-acre parcel, the widths of the streets and terraces and the use of cul-de-sacs as part of the calculation for parkland dedication. Ultimately, it will be up to the commission and council to determine whether they will accept the plan and advance it with only minor changes.

The Forward Development Group plan is for an area southwest of County Hwys. PD and M, and the process it’s taking is unusual for a mostly residential subdivision. It’s using the three-step planned-unit development process, which allows a wide variety of exemptions from standard zoning in exchange for a more detailed process and more exhaustive review of both form and function.

The plan remains in what’s called the concept plan stage, waiting to advance to its most important approval, the general development plan. Its concept plan has returned again and again, with changes substantive enough that Sayre felt it needed another review, and this step, the preliminary plat, is actually a separate process.

Some of the original plans for the development have been scrapped, including a stormwater detention area the developer wanted to convert into a conservation area and count toward parkland and large cul-de-sac islands in its unusual “villa” groupings.

The north side of the city is Verona’s next major growth area, with state approval already granted and the Cathedral Point subdivision to the south beginning to fill. Already, Kettle Creek North is building homes just north of Country View Elementary School, and this FDG project is north of that.

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