Despite objections from one neighboring household, the Waunakee Plan Commission Monday approved a conditional use permit for a home woodworking business on Bluebird Trail.

Jay Kang had applied for the permit to operate Rescued Woodworks, LLC, from one of the bays in his three-and-half car garage. The business specializes in handmade kitchen ware, home décor, bespoke furniture and high-end pet furniture.

In an application to the commission, Kang described several measures taken to accommodate the woodworking business, including the installation of CO2 detectors and a dust extraction system.

About a dozen neighbors spoke in favor of the business, some saying it adds value to the neighborhood, and that Kang has been a caring neighbor and role model for their children.

“Jay’s business is a wonderful opportunity for people to purchase from an artisan,” said Katie Murphy. “His work is purposeful, thoughtful and uses repurposed wood.”

Neighbors also said they had not heard noise from Kay’s shop.

David Ochoa said he lives across the street.

“I wouldn’t know anything was going over there. I never heard or smelled a thing,” Ochoa said.

A next door neighbor agreed.

But Michael and Kim Hughes, who wrote to the commission opposing the conditional use permit, indicated that the business violates the village’s noise ordinance, which requires noise not to exceed 60 decibels during daytime and 50 decibels at night.

“I guess I get to be the pariah,” Michael Hughes said at Monday’s meeting. Hughes said he wanted Kang to “comply with the law.”

“We have a noise ordinance that says the noise cannot be more than 50 decibels at night and 60 decibels during the day,” Hughes added. Hughes has heard the woodworking machines operated at 9, 10 and 11 p.m., he said.

The business has also generated emissions such as smoke, he said.

“This is what the law says,” Hughes said, adding, “I have a right not to hear it; I have a right not to smell it.”

Village Engineer Kevin Even told the commission that the police department measures noise levels, and if the business were approved, Kang would have to meet the standards. The village’s attorney drafted a conditional use permit with a number of conditions that prevent alterations changing the character of the single-family home, the storage of materials and goods on the property, and emissions of smoke, odor, glare, noise or other nuisances. Another condition limits business hours to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Asked how the conditions would be enforced, Even said the police department would be responsible. The permit could be provisional with a review after a year, Even added.

Commissioner and Village President Chris Zellner asked if Kang had been cited for noise, odor or other violations. He also noted that other activities product noise over the 50-decibel mark.

“My question is, are our decibel levels at the appropriate level?” Zellner asked.

Even said Kang has not received a citation.

Kang said he had a certified acoustic meter and has tested noise levels from his machines. The loudest is below the daytime decibel level.

Asked if the business could operate within the conditions contained in the permit, Kang agreed that it could.

Apartment complex proposed

Also Monday, Brian Sweeney of the development group Cohen-Esrey appeared for an initial consultation for a workforce and affordable housing apartment project just west of the Piggly Wiggly and McDonalds on Main Street.

Sweeney said the firm obtains grants from WHEDA for their projects and is applying for a grant to build at the site within WHEDA’s December deadline.

If approved, the project would include 50 units comprising one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments targeted to individuals earning between 30 and 80 percent of the median income with eight units at market rate.

The rents would range from $515 for one-bedroom up to $1,000 for the lowest earners, up to $1,200 for the higher earners, with other units at market rates.

The low-income credit process requires the development to maintain those rates for three years, Sweeney said.

The plan would include just 1.5 parking stalls per unit, which does not meet Waunakee’s standards.

“We would like to politely make an argument that 1.5 is sufficient for this type of development,” Sweeney said.

But staff wondered where overflow parking could be located. Even said while the commission has granted parking exceptions in the past, this location offers no street parking.

Staff also noted that at the front setback was of concern and asked if it were far enough from Main Street.

Also of concern was the future of Hwy. 19 and whether it would be widened to two lanes, and whether the entrance would meet Department of Transportation approval. Even suggested the developer contact the DOT.

One commissioner asked if the developer had looked at other sites. Sweeney said this was the only one available.

Even pointed out that the current policy of maintaining a 25 percent ratio of multifamily to single-family homes limits the approval of new apartments. Because this site is zoned commercial, the policy does not apply.

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