Village President John Williams will begin the search for residents and area experts to join and weigh in on a new ad hoc housing task force in Cottage Grove.

Initially discussed in February but then delayed due to the onset of the coronavirus, the Cottage Grove Village Board voted Monday, Aug. 3, to create the task force and solicit possible members.

While no one expressed opposition to the task force, the one point of discussion – as was the case six months ago – was the makeup of the group, specifically whether developers should be part of the committee.

Trustee Heidi Murphy said she can see the benefit of housing the expertise of a housing developer as a member but also believed the final makeup could be decided later.

Village Administrator Matt Giese said if the task force has a broker as a member, it makes sense to have a developer, too. However, he understands the concern.

That concern is that a developer could try to sway the task force into taking a position advantageous to the developer or that a developer could have inside information on pending preferences and then have an unfair advantage over other developers.

“I also agree that we should have that perspective,” Trustee Melissa Ratcliff said. “I think it’s important to understand what they’re seeing so that we can understand development better.”

Trustee Sarah Valencia asked if a developer on the task force would have to be one that lives or does business in the community. Village Planner Erin Ruth suggested the person should at least be active in the community housing scene.

Trustee Troy Allen brought up the point of non-resident experts and whether they should also be included.

Ruth noted that many people who fit that description could be brought in to provide information at select meetings without being a full-time committee member.

The proposed committee composition would include trustees, a Plan Commission citizen member, school district representative, chamber of commerce representative, large-business representative, small-business representative, real estate broker, single-family homeowner, renter and housing developer.

Williams will solicit possible members and propose them to the board for approval.

Ruth outlined the objectives of the task force:

– Understand housing inventory and demographics in the village and in the Dane County region currently and as trends over time.

– Identify areas of housing needs within the village and in the Dane County region. Use available population and household projections to anticipate needs over time.

– Consider locations proposed for various types of housing and review the housing chapter within the current comprehensive plan.

– Identify opportunities to encourage housing development that addresses the needs of the village, which may include recommendations to amend plans, ordinances or procedures to better address identified needs.

The mission of the task force is to ensure village’s vision of a safe, friendly and attractive community is attainable regardless of income, race, ability, age and household composition.

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