Janesville Street traffic, stormwater retention and relocation were the main public concerns developers heard at two affordable housing informational sessions last week.
The sessions, held at Triangle Park, gave the dozens of people who attended an opportunity to hear how two developers intend to bring affordable housing to the village’s east side. An apartment or household is “affordable” if the renter or owner pays no more than 30% of their income on rent or the mortgage, village planning and zoning administrator Elise Cruz told the Observer.
Habitat for Humanity of Dane County and Lakestone Properties both delivered presentations on their respective conceptual plans on Monday, July 27, and Wednesday, July 29. The Habitat plan involves redeveloping 769 Janesville St., and Lakestone’s would build new apartment buildings with rents below market rate at 917, 919 and 947 Janesville St.
Attendees shared feedback about increased traffic on what many think is an already congested Janesville Street.
Those at the Habitat hearing wanted to make sure the historial qualities of the 769 Janesville St. property were preserved – it was originally a bible camp – and wanted stormwater and flooding mitigation to be considered.
At the Lakestone session, residents living at 919 Janesville St. were concerned about needing to relocate, but were seemingly supportive of the design otherwise.
With public feedback in mind, both developers will make revisions as they see fit to the conceptual plans and bring them back to the Planning Commission for discussion at a fall meeting, Cruz said.
Habitat staff shared two concepts with the Planning Commission in June, one with a cul de sac and the other with a dead end, both laying out five duplexes on the site, for a total of ten new housing units. Each unit would range between 1,000-4,000 square feet.
Cruz said since that development only has the ten units, it shouldn’t impact Janesville Street traffic much. She said that increased traffic concerns apply to the Lakestone plan, with its 135-140 units.
After Habitat staff had heard from members of the public at the June Planning Commission meeting, a stormwater area to its conceptual plan was added, and duplexes were moved away from the existing single family household on the west side.
Habitat also added a playground area on the north side, Cruz said.
“People were happy to see the changes (at the meeting),” Cruz said.
When Lakestone presented its concept to the Planning Commission in June, it included the near 140 units to go on the southern portion of the site, since much of the northern portion is wetland. The units would take up three or more three-story multi-family residential buildings, and would have underground parking. The residential building layouts showed a variety of apartment sizes from studio to three-bedroom.
South of that is a proposed commercial development with a restaurant, bank, gas station or other establishments.
At the July 29 session, Brett Riemen from Lakestone Properties told the audience the three parcels included in the conceptual plan would be developed over two phases. Phase 1 wouldn’t begin until spring 2021, he said, which would include constructing the plan’s residential buildings and removing the existing 917 Janesville St. property.
Phase 2 has an unknown start date, Riemen said. It would include constructing the commercial property and removing the 919, 947 and 957 Janesville St. buildings. Cruz clarified 947 and 957 are part of one combined parcel.
To address Janesville Street traffic concerns, the developer would conduct a study working with the village public works department and Village Board, incorporating any findings into a revised plan. Riemen didn’t speak to the timing of that study.
While residents seemed generally satisfied with the traffic plan, some voiced concerns removing the 919 property would uproot them. They asked if they would be able to live inside one the Lakestone units if they would need to relocate.
Brian Spanos of Lakestone said in response to the residents that the developer has not yet closed on the property. Once it does, Spanos said Lakestone would work with existing tenants in any way they could, but didn’t promise they would be granted a spot in the new development.
“We pride ourselves on small communities,” Spanos said. “We develop where we live and work.”