A proposal to redevelop the former Sugar Creek Elementary School land is headed to the Common Council for a key vote.
The development, would include the construction of 140 market rate apartments, 110 workforce housing apartments and 10,000 square feet of commercial space on more than 12 acres just west of downtown Verona.
At the Monday, Oct. 5, Plan Commission meeting, commissioners unanimously recommended the Common Council approve the general development plan and rezoning the property. The council is expected to review it Monday, Oct 12.
The GDP is the second public phase of a three-step process, but it is the most important, as approval would grant the developer the right to build the project as long as it is substantially similar to what’s in the plan. This project, however, likely will require a commitment of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, its developers have said, and that would require a separate approval.
The land also is still owned by the Verona Area School District and will be conveyed to the city in November. Because it will be city-owned land, there is still input opportunity for the commission and council before construction begins, city administrator Adam Sayre said.
Members of the Plan Commission voiced concerns at the meeting that the general development plan Steve Brown Apartments and the Alexander Company brought to the commission was not as detailed as that of many other developments. However, the city’s guidelines for GDP submissions state the plans should include the “general land use layout” of the development, including roads and public facilities, such as parks.
If the council approves the GDP for the project, the next step would be a precise implementation plan for all or part of the project. A PIP includes additional details, such as landscaping, stormwater, lighting plans and building design and aesthetics, and the city holds another public hearing, with staff directly notifying all property owners within 200 feet of the development.
During the public hearing on the development, all four commenters said they live near the development and want to see it have more green space than what has been proposed.
Alison Hoffman, who lives on Church Avenue and moved into her childhood home, said the less than two acres on the plan is not enough to support the 250 apartments.
“Even the neighborhood parks in other subdivisions are bigger than this,” she said.
She noted that with the development, the existing playgrounds and basketball court would be eliminated and people who live in the apartments will likely use the green space often because they don’t have private backyards.
Brian Munson, representing consulting company Vandewalle and Associates, said there is a parking lot near the green space that has flexibility to add more green space, but bringing in a full extra acre to the green space is unlikely.