Letter: Councilwoman’s Vote Against East Side Town-homes Not Emotional
To the Editor-
I have been hearing a lot lately about “a special interest group in this town to stifle development”.
If there exists such a cabal, no one has contacted me.
Hand-in-hand with that type of thinking is that opposition to a specific project is emotional, not based on science, or is some sort of personal agenda. With that being said, I want to clarify my opposition to the townhome development on Badger [Ave.].
That property is primarily a wetland and not suited for such intensive development. The little strip of buildable high ground is surrounded by permanent wetlands. They provide an abundance of insect and mosquito life for the approximately 74 species of birds observed there. There will be very little usable green space for the residents as the apartments will be sandwiched between the road and these wetlands.
As a neighbor of the development, an urban planner by education and experience, and Alderperson for District 7, I opposed the site of the development. I want to make that absolutely clear.
I am not opposed to development; I am opposed to poorly-planned and badly-sited development. Drive out on [Highway] 10 East and look at all the developable land around the old Copps location. Think what Point of Beginning and Jason Blenker could have constructed there!
I have long envisioned, and advocated for, a mixed-use development with retail, dining, and affordable and high-end housing units like the proposed town-homes. Blenker could have pitched 12 of his town-homes at that site and I would have been his strongest supporter. I am so disappointed in the lack of forethought on the part of these developers.
The city could have had a significantly larger expansion of our tax base, instead the [City] Council settled for four little town-homes, a private road and a couple office buildings built in a wetland with absolutely no room for future expansion. Furthermore, the $100,000 property tax revenue touted as one reason for the development is shared among five taxing entities.
When the inevitable development takes place east of Badger [Ave.] to County [Highway] J, the city has now severely limited its options for any sort of backage road to feed future developments. Based on my experience as an urban planner, I believe this was a very shortsighted decision.
I completely understand that we cannot make developers choose sites the city wants to develop. We certainly can, however, encourage those choices using sound planning principles and economic development incentives.
I was elected by residents who live in District 7 to serve as their voice. It is my responsibility to represent their interests, as well as that of the city. I believe I use my education and experience as an urban planner to do just that.
As a planner, I realize the limitations placed on local government regarding revenue streams. The quest for development and environmental protection of sensitive habitats are not mutually exclusive. Enlightened communities do both.
Mary Kneebone, District 7 Alder