PLEASANT PRAIRIE — A proposed new housing development has drawn opposition from dozens of homeowners who live near the proposed site.
Bear Development’s “The Vista at Creekside” — which would includes 43 single-family lots, a two-family lot and seven, 20-unit apartment buildings with a clubhouse on 62 acres — received unanimous approval from the Plan Commission on Monday.
The project is targeting the Whittier Creek neighborhood north of 93rd Street and east of Old Green Bay Road.
During a public hearing on the proposal several residents questioned why the village would allow the proposed rental units Bear wants to develop when a previous developer had been required to build owner-occupied homes.
Four years ago, the Village Board approved a conceptual plan to develop land for single- and multi-family homes northwest of the Creekside Subdivision and the nearby Creekside Crossing subdivision and condominiums. However, the developer abandoned the project due to the high cost of constructing Creekside Circle and public improvements for a bridge, according to staff documents.
More than 40 people, many of residents of the Creekside Crossing Condominium Association, weren’t opposed to the single-family portion of the proposal but were concerned, even angry that apartments would be part of it.
Those who spoke during the public hearing said they feared lowered property values and maintenance costs with additional sidewalks that would connect the two developments.
Bill Demo, the condominium association president, said the proposed development seemed forced.
“I understand the financial end for Bear and what they’re trying to do. I just don’t see where it meshes with the rest of the things that have been built in that end of the village,” he said.
Residents speak out
Patricia Tippet was shocked that the rentals were being brought into her subdivision and suggested the apartments be moved further to the west if they had to be built at all.
“I don’t think that the village would do this to — I know this is a exaggeration — but, um, Meadowdale Estate. I don’t think you’d ever put something like this in their subdivision let alone, I don’t think those people would let you. They’d sue you. So, I’m totally opposed to this proposal.”
Robert Hannes said he wakes up to a beautiful pond near his home and doesn’t want to see apartment buildings.
“If they can’t make money without the 20-unit apartment buildings, they shouldn’t’ve bought that land to develop. I didn’t buy that place to look at 20-unit apartment buildings,” he said.
Ken Harju said he was told by village staff when he purchased his home not to worry because homes like his would be developed nearby. Now he and others fear the density and problems associated with subsidized, low-income units.
“We can call it whatever we want to call it, it’s subsidized housing,” he said.
Homeowner Warren Denhartog, who works for a police agency outside the village, put it more bluntly. He doesn’t want the crime.
“Doing the job I do I know that apartments … bring a lot of people to a small area, which leads to a lot of crime,” he said.
Community Development Director Jean Werbie-Harris said the initial phases of the previous proposed development had been intended for owner-occupied homes, but it was not known how the plans would eventually turn out “because they never got that far when the economy tanked.”
Werbie-Harris said the village has recently begun to look at how multi-family housing fits into the village.
“We are minimizing the amount of residents that could come to our community that are making a lesser wage,” she said. “So, we need to decide, is this the right location for them? Or would there be another location in Pleasant Prairie that would be more suitable?”
S.R. Mills, Bear Development president, said the apartments are not low-income housing and took exception to “fear mongering,” at the meeting.
“This isn’t low-income. People can say it is. It’s not. And, when we talk about strip clubs and crime, and things like that, it’s not this,” he said.
Mills said the apartments would be developed with workforce housing tax credits, and while the rents are similar in price to low-income units, they are not the same as low-income units as prospective tenants must have three times their monthly rent income in order to qualify.
“We’re talking about teachers, firefighters and single professionals,” he said following the meeting. “It’s not subsidized where the rent is going to paid from government. What we received is workforce housing credits.”
Plan Commission Chairman Michael Serpe said, although the plan was approved, it was with the understanding that “it might have to be tweaked.”
“I think in reality, it’s going to have to be looked at again before it goes forward,” he said.