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Port Washington

Port does its part for Cedar Vineyard project PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 18:05

Council inks agreement with developer who says purchase is imminent despite bank’s marketing of land

    Port Washington officials on Tuesday moved the proposed Cedar Vineyard subdivision one step closer to reality by approving a developer’s agreement for the project.
    Developer Tom Swarthout of the Highview Group told aldermen that he’s nearing a deal to purchase the 240-acre parcel along Highway C, which is owned by Waukesha State Bank and as recently as last month was listed for sale.
    “We are at that endpoint,” Swarthout said. “There are nine attorneys working on this closing.”
    Swarthout, who said he’s been working on the proposal for 3-1/2 years, called it a “revolutionary” project with a plethora of green features, public access to the bluff and beach and a plan to create a publicly owned 101-acre nature preserve.
    The development would be built in three phases, Swarthout said. The 72 lots on the east side of Highway C would be built in two phases, while the third phase will include 10 lots on the west side of the road near a winery that will be built using an old barn.
    A vineyard would line the highway, creating a more rural feeling than a typical city development.
    Even the landscaping plan is unique, Swarthout said, noting many of the trees to be planted will be fruit trees clustered together rather than spread throughout the development.
    The developer’s agreement calls for the city to extend utility services from their current location on Division Street south to the development, City Administrator Mark Grams said.
    It also calls for the city to construct improvements on Highway C, including a bike path, and to build a parking lot on the west side of the highway that will be used by people visiting the winery as well as those using public paths and visiting the nature preserve, he said.
    While the parking lot will be built by the city, it will be the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the lot, he added.
    There will be restrooms in the winery that can be used by the public, Grams added.
    Streets and utilities within the subdivision will be paid for by the developer, the agreement states.
    The agreement also calls for the city to pay for one of two lift stations that will help service any developments to the south of Cedar Vineyard, he said.
    Ald. John Sigwart questioned the wisdom of having the homeowner’s association be responsible to maintain the second lift station.
    “Half the time our homeowners’ associations can’t maintain themselves,” he said.
    However, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt noted that the burden of maintaining the facility will fall not on the association but on the homeowners themselves.
    The city’s improvements, which total about $6 million, will be paid through its tax incremental financing district, Grams said, noting that a financial analysis has proven the development will cover the costs of the improvements.
    Ozaukee County, which will ultimately own the nature preserve within the development, has already signed off on the agreement, Swarthout said.

Subdivision to grow with addition of houses, condos PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 18:57

Port commission OKs expansion of Hidden Hills

  The Hidden Hills subdivision on Port Washington’s west side is about to get larger.
    A concept plan to extend the subdivision, which is north of Highway 33, to the north was approved by the Plan Commission last week.
    The plan calls for 26 single-family houses and seven duplex condominium buildings — a total of 14 units — to be constructed on the 25.5-acre site. In addition, one almost two-acre “estate lot” would be created.
    The plan by Bielinski Homes is similar to one proposed by the firm and approved by the city in 2007, said Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development.
    That plan, however, called for two more single-family homes, he said.
    “The streets are a little curvier (now) and the lots are a little larger,” Tetzlaff said.
    In addition, he said, the wetlands in the development have also increased in size.
    The older plan did generate some concern about the size of the lots, Tetzlaff said.
    “I think this plan solves some of the past concerns,” he said.
    Bielinski’s lot is bordered by Green Bay Road and Town of Port property on the north, Tetzlaff said, and the proposal aligns with the town’s plan for that area.
    The larger lots would allow Bielinski to build some houses with side-loading garages instead of front-loading ones, John Donovan, acquisitions and development manager for Bielinski, said.
    He said the firm is looking at whether to build a house on the estate lot or sell it.
    While the property is a large rectangle on the northwest side of the current Hidden Hills subdivision, Donovan noted there is a parcel on Green Bay Road that is privately owned. The firm asked the owner if they were interested in selling, he said, but that’s not likely to occur.
    Bielinski will need to get permission from the Department of Natural Resources to build a road into the south side of the subdivision — from the existing Hidden Hills subdivision — that would cross a wetland, Donovan said.
    The company is ready to begin work on Hidden Hills North, he added.
    The Hidden Hills subdivision was recently the center of debate as officials considered and ultimately approved a senior housing development off Highway 33.

Council names Ehrlich president, plans to appoint alderman PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:01

Port officials pick longtime alderman as leader, decide to fill vacancy five months before election

    As the makeup of the Port Washington Common Council continues to change, aldermen on Tuesday unanimously elected longtime Ald. Mike Ehrlich as council president, succeeding former Ald. Doug Biggs, and set in place a process to replace Biggs, whose resignation was effective Sept. 15.
    The council has undergone significant changes since two longtime aldermen were ousted in a spring election held in the wake of controversy over development in the city — particularly the Blues Factory and other lakefront developments — and a third aldermen stepped down.
    “I’ve got big shoes to fill between Ald. Biggs and Ald. Becker,” Ehrlich said, referring to former Ald., Dan Becker, who was the council president before Biggs. “Thank you very much.”
    Ehrlich, who has represented the city’s 1st District since 2009, was the only candidate nominated for council president. He was unanimously elected.
    There was no debate over Ehrlich’s nomination, but there was some debate over the process used to elect him.
    Ald. Dave Larson moved to use a voice vote to elect the president, but Ald. Mike Gasper suggested that aldermen only use that if one person was nominated for the post. If there was more than one candidate, Gasper said, it would make more sense to elect the president via ballots.
    That sort of mixed process is not allowed under Robert’s Rules of Order, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said.
    Aldermen also agreed to accept applications from residents of the 4th District on the city’s south side to fill the spot left vacant by Biggs’ resignation.
    Applicants must be 18 years or older,  be a U.S. citizen who lives in the district and have no criminal convictions regarding a violation of the public trust, City Administrator Mark Grams said.
        Applicants must submit a cover letter and resume, he said.
    An advertisement for candidates will be run in Ozaukee Press on Sept. 21 and 28, and applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. Oct. 20, aldermen agreed. Those applying will be interviewed by the Common Council on Nov. 7, and the new alderman could be appointed that night.
    There’s always a risk that no one will apply for the seat or that the council does not find any applicant suitable for the spot, Ald. Dave Larson said.
    Gasper suggested the council set an earlier deadline and appointment date, otherwise it is almost time for people who want to run in the spring election, when Biggs’ seat is up, can begin circulating nomination papers.
    “I don’t want to be in a position where we’re appointing an incumbent who is likely to get elected in spring,” he said.
    Moving the deadline up will give potential candidates little time to apply, aldermen said.
    It’s important that the council appoint a new alderman, Ehrlich said.
    “I think we owe it to that district to get some representation for them,” he said.
    Noting that the city doesn’t have a policy for replacing an alderman who resigns, Gasper suggested the city consider setting a firm process. That could be done as the city continues its recodification process, Mayor Tom Mlada said.

Street work planning rekindles sidewalk debate PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 18:41

Port board tackles question of whether to require walkways where there aren’t any when roads are rebuilt

 As the Port Washington Board of Public Works began the process of designing street projects for the next two years, an age-old discussion of whether to add sidewalks where they currently don’t exist began again.
    At issue are streets in the north bluff area of the city, such as Crestview Drive, that are slated to be reconstructed next year.
    Board member Eric Ryer said sidewalks are something that should be considered, noting that the street on Port Washington’s north bluff is near Upper Lake Park that doesn’t have sidewalks.
    “The Hales Trail area, I say every year — it would be nice (to have sidewalks),” he said.
    Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said the road will be designed to accommodate sidewalks, but he noted that none of the neighboring streets have sidewalks.
    “Crestview is not going to be attached to any other sidewalks,” he said, referring to Crestview Drive.
    The board on Tuesday recommended the city hire Gremmer and Associates to design the projects.
    Public information meetings on each year’s projects will be held — this year’s is likely to be held in November or December, Vanden Noven said — and the comments received will be considered by the board in recommending the configuration of the roads, including sidewalks.
    “I’m sure the subject will come up (during the public information meeting),” he said.
    But the final decision, Vanden Noven said, will lie with the Common Council.
    “They might decide to go the route of Harrison Street, where they said there will be sidewalks but not immediately,” he said.
    No matter what, he stressed, the streets will be designed to accommodate the installation of sidewalks.
    Vanden Noven noted that he has spoken to two residents in the Crestview Drive area, and they are split on the issue.
    The city is expected to reconstruct 5,700 feet of streets next year, resurface another 900 feet and replace 3,700 feet of water mains.
    The 2018 projects include the reconstruction of Crestivew Drive from Noridge Trail to Briarwood, as well as Noridge Trail from Crestview south. Whitefish Road will also be rebuilt from Lakeview to Hales Trail, Hales Trail from Whitefish to Pierron and between Pierron and Kaiser, and Lakeview Avenue from Douglas to Whitefish Road.
    Noridge Trail will be resurfaced from Crestview to Sunrise, as will Brentwood Court.
    In 2019, the projects include the reconstruction of Lakeview from Prospect to Douglas, Cleveland Street from Wisconsin to Lakeview, Douglas from Wisconsin Street to the cul de sac, Whitefish Road from Wisconsin to Lakeview, Lakeview from Whitefish to Pierron and Pierron from Wisconsin to Hales Trail.
    Cleveland Street from Lakeview east would also be resurfaced.

Planned baseball complex runs into sewer debate PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 18:35

Organization ready to start work but Port, Saukville must first come to terms over service for city site

   A long simmering debate between the Village of Saukville and City of Port Washington over which community will provide sewer service to a property on Port’s west side is threatening to delay development of a youth baseball complex on the site, Port officials were told Tuesday.
    Richard Stasik, president of Port Youth Baseball, told aldermen that after years of working on plans for a four-field baseball complex on a portion of the former Schanen farm south of Highway 33 and directly east of Jackson Road, the organization has the money needed to build the first field, a 90-foot regulation diamond.
    The group wants to also build restrooms there, Stasik said, but the question of which community will provide sewer service to the land needs to be resolved.
    The group had even looked at installing a holding tank, he said, but that won’t work.
    Aldermen agreed Tuesday it’s time to double down on negotiations since the group is ready to begin construction and, Stasik said, has already lost $8,000 in donations because of delays in starting the work.
    The issue comes because the land, which is owned by the City of Port Washington and within the city limits, would be served by the city’s water utility but is in the Village of Saukville’s sanitary sewer district.
    Village officials told Port Youth Baseball it would cost about $160,000 to extend the sewer line from Schmit Ford, where it currently ends, east to the site, Stasik said.
    The cost to hook up to Port’s sewer utility would be about $40,000, City Administrator Mark Grams said, noting the city’s sewer lines abut the land.
    The city and village have been negotiating over the right to provide sewer service to the property for years, Grams said, noting that in addition to the 19-acre baseball complex, the 40-acre property is also slated for some residential and commercial development.
    Initially, the city offered to swap some land in its sewer service district for this property, Grams said.
    “Saukville has basically balked at that,” he said.
    He questioned why the village is so determined to provide sewer service to the complex, noting the amount of revenue the village would realize there would be “negligible.”
    The city has also had talks with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and Department of Natural Resources about changing the sewer service area, but to no avail, Grams added.
    “Basically what the village is looking for is dollars,” Grams said.
    At one point, he noted, the property was in the city’s sewer service area but in the mid-1980s, when the Port-Saukville School District was considering land across the street for a high school, the city and village exchanged areas so the school would be serviced by the city.  
    Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said the village is looking to receive $23,000 annually — the amount of revenue it says it would receive by servicing the land — in order to give up the sewer service area.
    “Saukville is effectively making development decisions for the City of Port Washington,” Ald. Doug Biggs said, since no development can occur without sewer service.
    Noting that the city has estimated the cost of extending the sewer service from Saukville to the site at more than $250,000, Biggs added, “For a nonprofit organization to have to bear an additional $200,000 in cost ... is ridiculous.
    “This is about kids being able to participate.”
    If the city waits for Saukville to extend its sewer service to the property as the village grows, “it’s not going to happen,” Vanden Noven said. The land between the village and city is in the Town of Port and those property owners are unlikely to hook into the utility.
    “Outside of paying Saukville, I don’t see this moving very quickly,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich said.
    He asked if Port Youth Baseball had considered other sites for its complex.
    Stasik said the group has not, noting there are virtually no other locations that are affordable.
    “We’re not flush with cash,” he said.
    If the group were to build only the field and not the restrooms, Stasik said, it would build a smaller field first, even though the greatest demand is for the larger one.
    That’s because if Saukville were to someday extend sewer service to the site, the line would run through the middle of the 90-foot field, he said.
    Noting that the city bought the Schanen farm in 2000 expecting a soccer park and recreational complex to be constructed there, Ald. John Sigwart said it’s time to get the issue solved.
    “It seems to me we have more at stake here than just a baseball diamond,” Sigwart said. “We have land here that can’t be developed. I think we’re in an untenable place. We have to do something that will be proactive. We have an investment here.”

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