Some new apartments in Waunakee could be built at a smaller size. The village’s plan commission Monday directed staff to create a draft policy that would decrease the minimum size of efficiency units. The public will then be able to weigh in at a future public hearing before any revisions are made and the ordinance amendment goes to the village board for consideration.
The current zoning code requires a minimum of 600 square feet for an efficiency apartment, the same size as a one-bedroom unit. According to a memo from village staff to the board, one recommendation from the 2019 Waunakee Housing Task Force sought to reduce the minimum for efficiencies to allow for more affordable housing options.
“In meeting the objectives as pointed out in the task force report, one way of providing additional housing product as well as at a more affordable price point is by minimizing or lessening that minimum square footage for efficiency,” said Tim Semmann, Waunakee community development director.
Semmann noted that Middleton, Fitchburg, Sun Prairie and Monona have no such regulation of minimum square footage. Stoughton, Madison and Verona require a minimum of 150 square feet for the first occupant and 100 square feet for each additional occupant. Semmann said that regulation is in the building code, but the cities have no requirement in the zoning code.
The commission could specify square footage for efficiencies or follow the model set by municipalities and not include a number.
Waunakee also has similar square-footage occupancy requirements in its ordinances, what planning consultant Jason Valerius called “the bare safety minimum.”
“To be honest, you don’t even need to regulate it,” Valerius said about the square footage. “Most don’t because the market figures it out. You could have a regulation that is the bare safety minimum. And, do you really care whether someone wants to experiment with micro living?”
Asked how the reduction in the square-foot requirement would affect parking, Valerius said currently, two spaces are required per unit. Staff has drafted an exception to the parking policy to bring to the commission. It proposes 1 spot for an efficiency, 1.5 per one-bedroom and 2 for a two-bedroom.
Plan commissioner Gary Herzberg made a motion to have staff draft an amendment to the zoning ordinance reducing the minimum size to 500 square feet for efficiency apartments.
Asked if staff had received requests to change the ordinance, Semmann said no. But in the Heritage Hills apartment plan, all of the efficiency units are between 530 to 595 square feet, he said.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the commission:
-tabled a proposed amendment to establish height and setback restrictions at the airport to protect the use of the runway for aircraft. After a public hearing, the commission tabled the vote to allow staff to meet with property owners who had existing non-conforming structures. The ordinance amendment may be revised to accommodate one structure.
-reviewed a conceptual plan for two proposed retail buildings within the Woodland Crest commercial development near where Noodles & Company is currently under construction. Located at Hwy. Q just north of Peaceful Valley Parkway, the conceptual development plan calls for right-in, right-out traffic circulation to the highway. Drive-thrus are requested for the new buildings, one of which is proposed to be a coffee shop.
-approved a site plan for a portable classroom at Waunakee Middle School.