A plan to build 257 homes on the city’s southeast side earned unanimous Common Council approval Monday, Feb. 10, despite concerns over some private alleys and high home prices.

The Woods at Cathedral Point had squeaked out of the Plan Commission the week before on a 4-3 vote, with some commissioners expressing the same concerns they and alders had raised in recent months as the Veridian Homes development went through multiple steps of the approval process.

Among issues cited were who would maintain the private alleyways behind garages – called carriage lanes – and private roads, and whether some city services would still be able to reach the area.

There were also questions about the types of homes and their prices, though some of the proposed dwellings would be less expensive than typical new houses in Verona.

Chris Ehlers, vice president of land development at Veridian Homes, told the commission the development was more affordable than others in Verona. He said the average home price here is around $300,0000, and prices in the Woods would start in the high $200,000s and go all the way up to $500,000.

Mayor Luke Diaz questioned whether there were enough three-bedroom homes for larger families and commissioner Beth Tucker Long voiced concerns about the segregation of the homes by price, with the more expensive ones on the east side, adjacent to the Ice Age Trail and the less expensive ones all near Range Trail and surrounding the carriage lanes.

Other issues raised included the delineation between the areas occupied by private homes and those leading into the Ice Age Trail, a footpath covering 1,000 miles of Wisconsin that follows the path where the glaciers stopped in the most recent Ice Age.

Diaz praised the addition of homes in a lower price range.

“This is, of course, not what we would term affordable housing, but I think you could call it attainable housing. That is a kind of progress,” Diaz said.

Veridian and staff addressed questions about the alleyways and roads were answered at the council meeting, noting that the a homeowners association would maintain the roads, police would still be able to enforce fire lanes and contractor Waste Management would be responsible for garbage pickup as it is in other areas of the city.

Ald. Evan Touchett (Dist. 4) remained concerned about the layout despite his yes vote.

“I don’t want developers to think it’s a blank check for private roads and alleyways in the future,” Touchett said.

Planning director search aborted

The search for a new planning director came to an abrupt end this week, city administrator Adam Sayre told the Common Council at its Feb. 10 meeting.

Sayre, who juggled that position with interim city administrator duties from February until being promoted on a permanent basis, said the city’s Personnel committee had narrowed the search to two candidates last month but decided not to move forward with either one.

He said the city will do its planning work in 2020 with current staff and potentially private contractors and that the search for a new planning director would be reopened at the end of 2020.

Renee Hickman can be contacted at renee.hickman@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @ReneeNHickman