McFarland village staff is expecting a petition of annexation for 36.29 acres of land along Highway AB – currently in the Town of Dunn – on which a new subdivision is proposed.
Veridian Homes and developers presented conceptual plans to the village plan commission Jan. 23. They are expected to resubmit revised plans after garnering feedback from commissioners and community members.
Depending on when revised plans are submitted, the plan commission could once again review the plans in March or April at the earliest.
Construction of the single-family homes and a sewer interceptor are projected to begin in 2020-21. A full buildout will take two to four years depending on market conditions.
Veridian Homes submitted three options for concept plans for the property owned by Utterback LTD Partnership.
The first plan would create 98 homes with a grid of walkable streets. Vandewalle & Associates principal designer Brian Munson notes the housing would be comparable to Veridian Homes’s Juniper Ridge neighborhood.
Upfront infrastructure costs and a lengthy approval process caused houses in Juniper Ridge to rise to an average sale price of $470,000.
Developers would like to decrease the price for the new subdivision houses below $400,000 and target a range around $350,000.
Additional sites would lower price points of the homes.
The second option would create 105 homes by reducing side yard setbacks to a minimum of 5 feet.
The third option would create 114 homes in which one block of homes would have a private alley to access backyard garages and carriage lanes. There would be a greater variety in format, price points and floor plans.
“We are trying to reset the bar from Juniper Ridge,” Chris Ehlers of Veridian Homes said. “Juniper Ridge is getting too expensive. This is a little cheaper site to develop, so we’re trying to dial it back.”
“One of the things that I hear is that because of Juniper Ridge and other developments, we’ve been very successful in being able to reduce our tax rate,” commissioner and Village President Brad Czebotar said. “On the other hand, what I hear along with that is, ‘Well that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t do us a lot when our home prices keep going up.’”
“It’s harder and harder with every year, because that price keeps going higher and higher,” Munson said. “The thought of a first-time home buyer at 350 ($350,000) is hard, because that doesn’t line up with a lot of incomes.”
He said they would consider ways to maintain the community’s character and allow people to find affordable housing.
Wes Licht, a resident who owns property and runs a horse farm along Highway AB, is concerned about the development’s effects on the surrounding neighbors and ecosystem.
Licht explains that when he first moved to the property in the 1970s, he did not need a sump pump. Over the years, seasonal use of a sump pump has increased to continual use due to a rising water table.
“I’ve been here now for over 30 years in McFarland and that’s a wet area. As you start building in there, that water’s gotta go somewhere,” commissioner Eric Green said.
Licht also explained the potential threat to the area’s deer and declining Blanding’s turtle populations.
“Habitat protection has proven very crucial,” he said.
New housing developments bring in predators, such as opossums, raccoons and dogs.
“In summary, we don’t want our home flooded, our pasture our field flooded, our fields for riding and sleighing flooded. This is a very serious concern for my wife and I,” he said. “It would ruin our business, our property and significant value that we have invested in our home in the course of time we have lived here.”
Neighbor Eric Swenson agreed with Licht’s comments.
“I know that McFarland is always growing,” he said. “It needs to expand, but yet, it’s gotta be done right. Otherwise, the neighborhood there is going to be complaining. It’s going to flow over to us, and then we’re going to have troubles.”
Swenson stated he also enjoys the area wildlife and is concerned about the development's effects on the water level.
“I think in general the concerns that they have area valid, but they are something that will be addressed during the several-step process that a neighborhood like this will take over the next year,” Munson said. “It’s very good to get this feedback early on, to hear these things and to start to apply them into a revised plan.”
Developers will look at groundwater and review soil borings. A buffer would be installed between the subdivision and wetlands for protection.