Pool plan should be accessible for all
I am reading the Tribune article updating the community on the Village, where it was mentioned that a pool is a top priority for most Waunakee residents.
I am in favor of this only if the plans are made to accommodate handicap access. That way all community members will be able to use this facility.
OK to subsidize businesses, but not housing?
I recently read this week’s Tribune article regarding Village President Zellner’s comments on business development. While it is great a new restaurant is coming to town, I have a big problem with implying that any sort of workforce housing would require the current residents to subsidize new ones to come in.
First of all, that statement is inaccurate and creates fear mongering. Immediately for many, the train of thought goes to projects like Section 8 housing. However, there have been no new Section 8 projects approved or funding for them in over 40 years. And I have lived within a few houses of Waunakee’s only Section 8 apartment complex for many years. The crime is no worse than anywhere else.
In addition, it’s an intriguing comment since Waunakee is currently subsidizing business development through TIF districts (and continuing to approve project funding for them). TIFs force the tax burden onto existing businesses, residents, and non-village residents living within the boundaries of the Waunakee school district, increasing your taxes. This is why the school district consistently votes to not approve new TIF districts. The village has given TIF funding to residential projects too, including nearly $5 million for Hovde’s Lamphouse and apartments start at $950 per month for a studio.
There are some counties in other parts of the state that put on your tax bill how TIDs affect your property taxes; however, that is not the case in Dane County. Another issue is the statement about a $150,000 house in 1977. When my parents bought their house here in 1979, they paid $47,500. I would highly question that anyone was building or buying a house in Waunakee for $150,000 back then. Using that number creates a housing cost comparison that is heavily skewed.
So I suppose if the current residents of Waunakee (and the Village Board) are okay with having TIFs that subsidize other businesses to come to town (without creating housing at a price accessible to those workers and our WCSD teachers), they’d be fine with doing the same for workforce housing.
If that doesn’t reflect how you feel, think about who you might vote for in the village board election next April.
Transparency, more notice needed in village
The village board will be asked to repeal the ordinance that limits housing to 75% single family/duplex and 25% multifamily and amend the comprehensive plan to suggested percentages. These proposals were discussed at a public hearing on September 14th.
I wanted more information, but roadblocks were placed in my way.
1. I look up the pertinent ordinance and comprehensive plan to find what is being proposed since the notice is vague. Here is what the public hearing notice said:
1) A proposed amendment to the Village of Waunakee Zoning Code in which Section 11-16
(Restriction on rezoning for multifamily use) would be repealed from the Zoning Code.
2) A proposed amendment to the 2017 Waunakee/Westport Joint Comprehensive Plan in
which language addressing the ratio between single-family housing and multi-family
housing in the village of Waunakee would be modified.
2. I contacted the person listed in the notice with questions. She sent me drafts of the changes.
3. She tells me to contact Kevin Even, village engineer, with questions. My assumption was that I would get answers to my questions. I did not, but am told they can be addressed at the meeting.
4. Kevin Even offers to forward my email to the plan commission. I prefer to contact Plan Commission members individually. Citizen members don’t have that contact information on the village web page. I had requested an addition of that contact information in a July email to the village. I’m told my new request for contact information was turned into an open records request.
5. After reading the notice more carefully, I see that comments are limited to one minute, so I conclude that all these hoops aren’t worth the bother. Intended outcome accomplished. No citizens speak at the public hearing.
6. I asked about the development review process. The answer was the village recommends meeting with neighbors, engineer consultant review, then public hearings at the plan commission and village board level. The reality is that developers don’t meet with neighbors and the public hearing notices are too vague.
Another case in point. Neighbors who will be impacted by the Schumacher quarry expansion were not contacted, had no say in the expansion, and the village may be facing another lawsuit. Development approval is heavily weighted against regular citizens.
Suggested changes: Clear notices, provide contact information for committee members, answer questions when asked, and involve neighbors early in the process.
Change needed to CDA meetings format
In reading this week’s village board agenda, I learned that the village wants to have a facilitator for the Community Development Authority (CDA) going forward. I find it interesting considering the meetings up to this point have been almost entirely presentations instead of discussion. The presentations have been educational and interesting; however, the only real discussion up to this point has been on the 75/25 housing ratio. And the CDA has met five times thus far, not three as mentioned in an article in the paper this week.
Now we suddenly need a facilitator at a $4,000 cost. The recommended individual is extensively qualified and I think will do a fine job in a facilitatory role. But I question the timing considering the lack of broader discussion beyond the ratio up to this point.
Apparently there is also a challenge in reaching consensus. On the 75/25 ratio, there was near consensus on how to proceed. Up to this point the village has kicked the can down the road regarding housing, after the housing task force completed its work. When CDA members were asked to prioritize housing goals, it was between two presentations in the meeting, and due to the limited time, the village administrator volunteered to set the prioritization.
That’s not how committees should function. Time needs to be scheduled for discussion. It makes more sense to change the format of the meeting to schedule fewer presentations and more discussion time. That simple change would negate the need for a facilitator and save the village $4,000.
Student Member, Waunakee Housing Task Force