The public comments on Veridian Homes’ Heritage Hills plan at Monday’s Waunakee Village Board meeting expressed praise for its inclusion of more affordable housing, but some at the public hearing also said they were concerned for two of the community’s landmarks.
Waunakee resident Nila Frye, who is also a candidate for a village trustee seat, said she hoped the extension of North Division Street from Main Street to Easy Street could be “resolved sooner rather than later since development before it is solved could negatively impact Water Tower Hill Park.”
Frye also said she supported the project which considered the Waunakee’s Housing Task Force’s recommendations calling for more moderately priced homes.
Water Tower Hill has long been a popular sledding spot in the community.
Waunakee resident Linda Ziegler said she was concerned about the Welcome to Waunakee sign along Main Street at Division Street. Her late husband put the sign in, she said.
“And don’t destroy it,” Ziegler said. “There’s a lot of guys that still live in Waunakee that put a lot of hard work into it.”
Kurt Breunig, whose owns the property that Veridian proposes to develop, told the board he and his family are excited about the project because it’s different than other housing developments in the village. Breunig said Veridian representatives asked the family about their wishes for the property when they proposed the development.
“One of the key things were trying to maintain the heritage, so they’ve done that,” Breunig said.
Breunig said the family was aware of the housing needs due to the housing task force. “Obviously Veridian did their research also. And when they presented their preliminary plan to our family, which really hasn’t changed much at all, we were just very impressed with how they tied into the existing areas around the community – the green space, the parks, Schumacher Park.” Breunig added.
Breunig then cautioned that as village officials make recommendations, they should keep in mind that the family wants this development to be something unique.
“Please exercise caution and not take away from what they’re trying to do and what we’re trying to do as property owners,” Breunig added.
Representatives of Veridian Homes described the proposed development, bounded by Main and Easy Streets and Schumacher Road and Division Street, as a master planned community. They noted that according to MLS real estate listings, the average sales price for a home in Waunakee was $452,000. With 228 homes listed, only 37 were priced under $300,000, Chris Ehlers of Veridian told the board.
Veridian is different from other developers because they develop the housing sites and build the homes, allowing them to bring the prices down.
Brian Munson of Vandewalle Associates noted that site is prominently located at the eastern gateway to the community.
The plan is for 318 single family homes, 88 twin homes, 72 haven twin homes geared for seniors and 200 multifamily homes.
It also includes a farm mixed-use center intended to preserve the existing buildings and allow some retail use.
The development would be marketed to first-time homebuyers, move-up buyers, luxury estate buyers, and active adults who are downsizing, along with those seeking multifamily housing.
Munson described the park plan, as well, along with trails and walking paths connecting to Schumacher Farm Park and other recreation areas within the community.
Waunakee resident Robert McPherson, another village trustee candidate, said in the past, he has criticized Waunakee’s use of planned unit development, but said “this is a very good use of it,” adding the community is getting back affordable housing.
McPherson asked about the price points of the homes.
Ehlers said the average price would be $365,000, with some homes under $300,000.
“The goal is to have economic diversity throughout the community,” Ehlers said.
Village Trustee Gary Herzberg asked about the fire department’s reaction to the alleys planned for the development. Village attorney Bryan Kleinmaier said village staff and Veridian representatives have been meeting with Waunakee Utilities and the fire department, and both have been involved in the process.
Kleinmaier also explained that the board would take no action at Monday’s meeting, which was scheduled for a public hearing only. At the next meeting, the board may want to take action on the zoning with the annexation.
Village President Chris Zellner pressed Veridian representatives about Water Tower Park.
“People are wanting to be assured it will not be taken away,” he said.
Munson noted that the Division Street extension is not in the first phase. Veridian will work with village staff to minimize on the impact on the sledding hill as the road is extended.
Ehlers added it would be two to four years before construction of that road would be begin.
“We want to save the sledding hill, too, because it’s an amenity to our homeowners,” Ehlers added.
As for the Welcome to Waunakee sign, Veridian representatives said it will be moved to a more prominent spot at the intersection.
Zellner asked Veridian about the building materials to be used, saying he wanted to be sure they were long lasting.
Ehlers said the company has upped the standards of the materials and the homes have a 96 percent five-star rating from their customers. The homes come with a one-year warranty, a five-year warranty for plumbing and a 20-year warranty for the roofs.
Herzberg added that stormwater is a big issue.
“This will be by far the most dense area in the community,” he said.
Village officials will have several opportunities to review the development as each phase will require site implementation plan approval. The hope is to begin the project this summer, with the development phased in over a 10- to 12-year period.