As an entire city block of downtown Waunakee is redeveloping with a new apartment building and library under construction, many more citizens are talking about growth. The Tribune has received multiple letters about projects, particularly in the Main Street area, and the details have been discussed at listening sessions.

At the Sept. 10 plan commission meeting, the village’s attorney refuted a number of concerns raised in letters from Tribune readers.

This discussion occurred during the final item on a long agenda relating to matters in Waunakee. Plan commissioners considered zoning code changes, a matter discussed in previous public meetings. Overall, the changes related to the conditional uses for building heights and restrictions on buildings next to neighboring properties. Other changes allowed for shared parking or stormwater facilities among parcels.

As the attorney pointed out, the changes are meant to strengthen language in the zoning code and to add some flexibility.

As one plan commissioner commented, zoning codes are complicated, and in the week prior to the meeting, readers had written to the Tribune with concerns about the changes. One concern is that all new buildings downtown could have some section at 55 feet tall.

Some of those same concerns can be seen again in this week’s letters from readers.

Many people have said they do not want Waunakee to become another Sun Prairie or Middleton. But as the entire county grows, planning for the new homes, businesses, traffic and residents is necessary, and changes to the zoning code seems part of that.

Many growing communities have similar questions:

Should they grow outward or upward? How can residents have the amenities they want without traveling to neighboring cities and adding more road congestion? As new businesses move downtown where will cars park? How can the community offer housing at a variety of income levels?

In the Tribune’s reporting of last week’s meeting, an entire agenda item regarding a parking study was pushed aside due to time and space constraints. As reported this week, the village has plans to hire an intern to conduct that study for the downtown.

And this week, a housing task force will begin a nine-month examination of housing issues. The Waunakee Public Library, too, will offer a program on this.

The parking and housing study both seem to be responses to the community’s concern about these issues, and the outcomes will hopefully bring more understanding and improvements in these areas.

The Capital Area Regional Plan Commission also launched a survey for residents to weigh in on how they’d like the region to grow in the next 20 years, providing another avenue for expressing their desires. The 10-minute survey can be found at greatermadisonvision.com. It followed several public sessions, including one in Waunakee, with computerized scenarios depicting the outcomes of a number of growth scenarios.

Waunakee and Dane County as a region continue to grow, and as the past has taught us, that growth will continue, though at a slower pace, even in an economic downturn. Citizens, too, can have a voice in how that growth occurs.

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