Developer’s second Port project irks neighbors

Area residents tell Plan Commission that Shaffer’s 209-apartment The Farm development is too dense
Ozaukee Press staff

The Farm, a 209-apartment development proposed for 12 acres on Port Washington’s southwest side by Mequon developer Cindy Shaffer, drew the ire of neighbors when a pre-concept plan was presented to the Plan Commission last week.

Neighbors decried the proposed development as too dense and said single-family or owner-occupied housing is preferable to apartments.

They questioned whether market-rate apartments or subsidized units would be best, and said they are worried about noise pollution and traffic.

They questioned Shaffer’s plans to have bees and chickens on site, saying they aren’t compatible with a development in the city limits.

“I’ll be really upset if this goes in,” Mark Post of Galena Drive said. “You’re plopping in a lot of rentals. I don’t see what Port Washington needs with more rentals. That’s what brings in problems.”

He said the development would be one of the most dense in the city, and said a plan to bring in owner-occupied housing would be preferable.

James Kemp, who also lives in the neighboring Greystone subdivision, concurred, saying the city’s land use plan doesn’t call for high density development there. Post also questioned Shaffer’s plan to have bees and chickens.

“We have a plethora of coyotes,” he said. “I think they like chicken as much as I do.”

The Farm, a so-called agrihood to be built on Sunset Road just west of Highway LL, would be one of the first of its kind in southeastern Wisconsin, Shaffer said, adding these type of neighborhoods, which integrate agriculture into residential communities, originated in California and Colorado.

Shaffer’s proposal calls for 10 two-story apartment buildings with a total of 209 units, but she told the commission that she is looking for feedback and could alter her plans depending on what she hears.

Bob Harris, the city’s director of planning and development, noted that the property isn’t included in the land use plan because it is currently in the town and needs to be annexed to the city.

The development would include public gardens and edible landscaping as well as a community center with a kitchen for farm-to-table meals using produce grown at The Farm, Shaffer said, adding she plans to bring in chefs to create the meals and perhaps teach cooking classes.

A hydroponic garden where produce can be grown would also be included in the clubhouse.

Although she wanted to have chickens, Shaffer noted that the city doesn’t allow chickens so she won’t have them.

“I guess I can’t have chickens,” she said. “I don’t want to change the code. I don’t want to fight about chickens.”

The buildings, she said, would have a farmhouse feeling with each unit having its own front porch entry, adding they would be built to condominium standards.

That way, she said, they could be converted to condos in the future, if desired.

Shaffer said she is investigating the use of state credits to create so-called workforce housing, noting that there are nearby businesses such as Kleen Test that are busing workers into Port.

  “If you’re trying to keep Port Washington upscale, you probably want to keep it market rate,” Kendel Feilen, 648 Evergreen Terrace, said.

It’s difficult to obtain financing for condominiums in today’s market, Shaffer said.

“I don’t think that would work right now,” she said.

Shaffer said she retains ownership of her buildings and vets her tenants carefully, noting she doesn’t want to have any problems with them.

Kemp questioned who would care for the gardens, saying, “If it’s not done professionally, it’s not done at all.”

He also expressed concern about having an alley running behind the subdivision, saying a buffer is needed, and said he’s concerned about light pollution.

Shaffer, who said she visits her developments weekly, said there will be a professional manager for The Farm.

Commission member Eric Ryer lauded the plan.

“I appreciate the fact you’re going to have more buildings set apart than one building,” he said. “It looks industrial (if it’s larger).”

Commission member Chad Mach asked about access to the development, saying he does not believe it should connect to the Greystone subdivision.

Shaffer said that’s something she wants to discuss with the Greystone residents.

Shaffer told the commission she envisions The Farm as a place to remind people of the area’s agrarian roots, noting it would emphasize sustainability.

“This is a really cool project,” Shaffer said previously. “I feel strongly about the environment. This is about green building and about food, healthy food.”
It’s a concept she said she would like to replicate throughout southeastern Wisconsin, adding that it will honor the farms that once dotted the land and created the communities where people live today.

Each of the developments, she said, would be branded The Farm and acknowledge the previous owners and farmers of the land. For Port’s project, she said, the project would be called The Farm: A Panarusky Family Legacy.


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