Ordinance changes would damage Waunakee

Next Monday, Sept. 10, there will be a 6 p.m. Plan Commission meeting at Village Hall. On the agenda, there are several proposed ordinance changes that would permanently alter many areas of Waunakee. Most of these changes are for ordinances that the village violated while approving Hovde.

The first proposed change is building height. Buildings could be constructed up to 55 feet tall on Commercial-1, R-5 multifamily, office, and industrial zoned property. The downtown commercial district already allows buildings this height, but Hovde should be a one-time exception.

This change for example would allow 55 foot multifamily buildings to be constructed in the Woodland Crest/Hy-Vee development.

In addition, residents don’t want us to become a Sun Prairie with high density all over the place. However, the maximum building height in Sun Prairie for all zoning except office is 40 feet, so the village wants to make Waunakee even worse than Sun Prairie. We can’t let that happen. 55 feet is four feet taller than the old St. John’s Church roofline.

The next potential change is for high density buildings. Lot area would include parcels within 500 feet of apartment buildings for improvements such as parking and stormwater regardless of its location in Waunakee. Using Main Street as an example, this would allow Madison and Main to have their parking across Main Street and down one block to the east side of Bacon Street where TDS is located, which could create problems for tenants in crossing Main Street.

Stormwater management would be allowed to be separate from the impermeable surface it is intended to mitigate. With all of the recent flooding, this seems like a terrible idea. All of these changes would make Waunakee’s ordinances even more lax than Sun Prairie’s, leaving a fairly open door for developers.

Two hundred and sixty two people signed a petition opposing the height increase for Hovde, yet it was still approved by the board. Two board seats were flipped partly due to this reason.

Let’s say no to the village’s persistent efforts to turn Waunakee into the new Sun Prairie. Please attend the meeting, email your opposition to these changes to czellner@waunakee.com or head to Village Hall on Friday or Monday to fill out a comment sheet. T. Wall was a shorter term issue for our community. These proposed ordinance changes would affect all 13,607 of us in every neighborhood for generations to come.


Sam Kaufmann

Waunakee High School student

Bias is bad for our village

Sampling, and representative sampling, is difficult to do well. There are good reasons to get as close to true representation as possible. Conclusions based on a good representative sample can be generalized to a broad audience. In an environment where issues of economic class and competing social needs, encouraging a true representative sample avoids any issues of bias in a community planning process. The application omitted an age range (I’d hate to guess a woman’s age) or even the number of children living at home. How are we getting to “representative?”

I find myself in a place of cognitive dissonance. I want professionals to use their knowledge to benefit the community; however, requiring a personal economic interest in Waunakee’s housing market feels uncomfortable to me. Nineteen percent of the seats are reserved for lending, real estate professional (single/multifamily), and a builder/developer.

How will we move Waunakee forward if the concerns of citizens are not addressed? Good politics necessitate giving a clear and reasonable explanation for recruiting so many in a specific field at the expense of a truly representative sample. I see that many areas of skills and knowledge could be beneficial to the village, particularly in a didactic learning environment.

I look forward to the committee’s work. I wish the appointed members good luck.

Ann Lewandowski

Zoning changes will affect village

Goodbye to the only Waunakee in the World. Hello to Anytown USA. Please attend the Waunakee planning commission meeting on Monday, Sept. 10. There are 3 proposed changes to our zoning ordinances. The changes weaken homeowner’s property protections and change our village’s character as they allow for more dense development.

Height change -The first proposal calls for changes to several zoning districts, including multi-family residential, to allow for buildings up to 55 feet. The village’s reasoning is that since the commercial downtown district now allows buildings up to 55 feet, other zoning should be changed to be consistent. The commercial downtown zoning change was not consistent with the intent of creating a commercial downtown district, which was to retain the historic character of downtown. This change led to 2 village trustees being voted off since the village ignored strong citizen feedback of wanting to retain the existing 45’ limit . This should at least be tabled until the new Hovde building is up on Main Street and people can see what 55’ looks like.

Density change -The second ordinance change is specific to the C1D commercial downtown district and deals with density. Density is the calculation that governs how many dwelling units can be on a lot. It would allow land across the street or within 500 feet of the lot being built on to be counted when determining density. The village’s logic is that it will allow for infill downtown in hard to develop areas. I say try to drive Highway 19 during rush hour. The Hovde traffic study showed that traffic on 19 already is at a level of ‘D’ This is like a D on a report card. It’s not failing but pretty darn close. We do not need more dense housing downtown.

Lots abutting a more restrictive district — This applies to any zoning district. The proposal weakens current language as it allows taller buildings based on new setback requirements. In real terms, it means that new development that includes commercial zoning next to residential could lead to very tall buildings next to your home.

The plan commission makes a recommendation to the village board and the village board will officially vote on these changes in an upcoming meeting, possibly as early as Sept. 17. Mark your calendars for the meetings on Sept. 9 and Sept. 17 and speak up to keep Waunakee’s small town feel. The meetings are at village hall at 6 p.m.

Linda Ashmore

Height ordinance change is a concern

The village is looking at changing some of the zoning ordinances. If you wish to learn more, please come to the Plan Commission Meeting on Sept. 10 and the Village Board Meeting on Sept. 17. If you cannot make it to the meetings email the Village Office to ask for more details at frontdesk@waunakee.com or Chris Zellner at czellner@waunakee.com. One item I am concerned about is changing the height ordinance to allow heights up to 55 feet in the C1 district which is fine in the industrial park, but this would include C1D which is our Main Street.

Mary Heimbecker

Why not wait to change zoning?

As a downtown resident, I am concerned that we are moving toward allowing parking to be offsite for residential developments. I think all residents need to be concerned, since the proposed change to the ordnance that allows parking 500’ away from the building would apply equally across the village.

We live in a climate that gets very hot and very cold. Grocery bags, children, pets, and strollers are normal activities that are made easier by parking onsite. Add navigating busy streets and parking lots distanced from the building they serve starts to sound like a bad idea. Ultimately, I suspect these people will park on the street in front of their building if the proposed zoning language is adopted.

Before we move forward with changing our zoning, let’s wait to see what the impact of the Hovde/Library parking arrangement is. We’ve not needed this change until now. If people use the library parking for the residential parking, carrying their groceries across North Madison, we can move forward. What’s the harm in waiting to see how the Hovde building is working out?

Mary Jo Bell

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