Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee Minutes January 7, 2008

JANUARY 7, 2008

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Zastrow at 6:00 p.m. in the Training Room of the Police Department.

Members present:Mark Zastrow, John Wilmet, James Fitzpatrick, Jill Kessenich, Sheldon Mielke, Jeff Woods, Cwmn. Behrens, Dean Brown, Bill Camplin, Dennis Rybicke, Bob Vincent, Cm. John Mielke, Cm. Jim Simdon and Cm. Steve Tesmer
Members absent:Sandy Mayer
Others present:Mark Roffers, Megan MacGlashan, Matt Trebatoski, Rudy Bushcott, and Rodney Hetts

Item #1:     Approval of Minutes of November 19, 2007 Meeting.

Jill Kessenich said that on page three of the Minutes, the seventh paragraph, the comment on the downtown bike racks was made by Sandy Mayer, not her. A motion to approve the Minutes as amended was made by John Wilmet, seconded by Sheldon Mielke and passed by a 6-0 voice vote.

Item #2:    Public Comment.

No public comments were made.

Item #3:    Review Progress on Planning Process and Purpose of Joint Meeting.

Prior to the discussion on this item, Mark Zastrow asked those attending the meeting to introduce themselves and indicate what they are representing.

Megan MacGlashan, of Vandewalle & Associates, gave the Joint Committee an update on the progress to date and where the process is headed. The Comprehensive Plan is a document that covers planning, change, growth and preservation in the City of Fort Atkinson for a period of twenty-five years. There is a State Statute that says that any community that wishes to regulate land use through subdivision and zoning ordinances, must have a comprehensive plan in place by 2010. The Committee has been meeting and working on this for about one year, and the past and future work is summarized on the meeting schedule handout. The background sections of the Plan have been completed and a first draft has been reviewed by the Steering Committee. Two public participation workshops have been held to get information and direction from the residents. The full Plan is being worked on and the first draft will be presented to the Steering Committee at the next meeting. The complete Plan will then be presented at a public meeting, then to the Planning Commission for approval, and the Council for adoption. An additional handout contains the key ideas from the draft Strategy for Growth document which Vandewalle & Associates wants to get feedback on at this meeting.

Cm. Tesmer asked how binding the Comprehensive Plan is on future Councils or Planning Commissions if they don't really agree with the recommendations and want to go in a different direction? Mark Roffers, of Vandewalle & Associates, said the Plan is binding on future decisions relating to zoning, subdivision review, and official mapping, but the Plan can be changed. The Plan is being written in such a way that the City can consider items, as opposed to having to do them. Disclaimers are also placed in the Plan and on the maps. This will provide a clear direction in the Plan, but also some flexibility for future decision makers.

Item #4:    Present and Discuss Revised Draft Future Growth and Change Strategy Document and Future Land Use Map

Mark Roffers then talked about the future land use map, which will be the most used and discussed feature in the Plan. The City has a land use map as part of its current Master Plan that it has been using as a guide in its decisions. This would update and replace the current map and will be an illustration on where the City is going to grow and what type of growth it will be. It will be used to inform and advise on decisions on annexations, zonings, TIF Districts, and where to promote redevelopment. The map will be backed up by policies and recommendations, and descriptions on what the different colors represent. The thing that we have learned over the last couple of months is while there are opportunities for growth and redevelopment within the community, there are constraints that need to be dealt with. The avenues for expansion are limited on the east and west by the environmental corridors associated with the Rock and Bark Rivers. The City is limited to the south by the several subdivisions in the Town because of the difficulty in annexing these lands and then to extend utility services. The other items in the City are the Historic Preservation of the Jones Dairy Farm and Hoard Dairy Farm. The preserves are a wonderful component of the city, but do provide for challenges to growth. What are left are the opportunities for growth and development, both within the City and outside the current boundary. Inside the City is the Janesville Avenue corridor, the K-Mart site, and other areas that are potential redevelopment sites. The other areas are to the northwest, where the City has already done extensive work on this for a mix of residential, commercial and retail development, and the area southwest of the Klement Business Park. In this area, the focus will be on the lines of industrial and employment growth. Beyond those areas, the map identifies areas beyond the 20-year growth period that may be considered for City growth and development. They do not show the specific type of development, but because of the drainage and soil types, they may be appropriate for development. The City of Jefferson is a little ahead of Fort Atkinson in the Plan development process, but the two cities met to discuss future growth and development, and to develop a boundary line for each City's planning. The blown-up, detailed land use map does indicate the potential redevelopment sites in the City, K-Mart area, 200 block of Madison Avenue, 200 block of North Main Street, and others.

Cm. Mielke asked what would happen if there was a business that wanted to come into the City that would be a good fit in a redevelopment area, but they wanted to go some place else, how would we encourage the use of the redevelopment area? Mark Roffers said building new is usually less than redeveloping an area. The City needs to engage in a program of education and vision sharing with the development community regarding the opportunities in the redevelopment areas. But the City first needs the vision and the people to support it. Finally, the City will need to look at Tax Incremental Financing as a way to remove or reduce the cost difference between new development and redevelopment.

Mark Roffers again referred to the map, and the redevelopment opportunities in the Janesville Avenue and Whitewater Avenue corridors. In looking at them in their current conditions, and at the market opportunities in the short-term, redevelopment seems more logical on Janesville Avenue. The map does show redevelopment at Hilltop Trail and Whitewater Avenue, but the City can only do so much at once and they will want to concentrate on areas that are "market-ripe" first.

John Wilmet said the only big error that he sees on the map is the property owned by John Hausz on the west side of the City being shown as "planned neighborhood". That land is in the Federal Wetland Preserve Program and would be difficult, if not impossible, for development. Either John Hausz or Jim Woodman, local surveyor, can be contacted for additional information.

Bill Camplin would like to see a corridor out of Rose Lake, which would connect to properties in the east. Mark Roffers said that a corridor could be part of an environmental corridor, and the idea of connecting the parks and rivers has been talked about. This information will show up on the transportation map.

Sheldon Mielke said the urban service area is not shown on either map; will it be shown on any maps in the Plan? Mark Roffers said there are other maps that have the service area on it.

Jim Fitzpatrick asked how many households are represented by the areas shown as planned neighborhoods? Megan MacGlashan said there are about 2,000 households in those areas.

Bob Vincent asked if the planned neighborhood areas would be homes with private sewer and water? Mark Roffers said the recommendations that will be in the Plan are that the City should work to limit rural development in the areas of planned City growth and development.

Cwmn. Behrens said the report talked about housing similar to pre-World War II. Do you anticipate P.U.D. development with more greenspace and smaller lots? Mark Roffers said he does anticipate this type of development, and the City might want to create a separate zoning district for that type of development.

Dean Brown said that the Whitewater Avenue area is not ready for redevelopment. Is there anything in the Plan that will keep the area from declining? Mark Roffers said there isn't much in the Plan about Whitewater Avenue, but something will have to be added in case the market takes off there and something that will maintain the character and improves it where development occurs.

Mark Roffers then started to review the second handout, key topics of the draft Strategy document. It tries to capture the key ideas in the 23-page document and reduce it down to two or three pages. The key topics are Traditional Neighborhood Designs, Klement Business Park, sustainability, Fort Atkinson as a second night entertainment center, redevelopment opportunities, growth and the Hoard Farm Preserve, extra-territorial authority, and working with the City of Jefferson.

Mark Roffers said the Traditional Neighborhood Design will encompass a mixture of different housing types and also opportunities for churches, schools and retail/office uses within the development area.

In the Klement Business Park, Mark Roffers said the Plan would provide for enough land for the future expansion of the Park. The Plan will provide for the Park to double or triple in size. The Plan also recommends the Park be promoted for bio-based industry, and to use green practices in the building. John Wilmet said the Highway 12 Bypass should be shown on the land use map and the transportation.

Megan MacGlashan reviewed Advanced Sustainability and second night entertainment center. The concept of sustainability should underlie all of the other concepts that are in the Plan. Trying to grow compactly, Traditional Neighborhood Designs, transportation options are all included in sustainability, and are carried throughout the Plan. Bob Vincent asked if the City could go as far as changing its Building Code to prevent a type of house from being built? Cm. Mielke said the current Uniform Building Code requires minimum standards, but no maximum. Mark Roffers added that other cities have offered incentives through a TIF District to encourage meeting high standards.

In marketing Fort Atkinson as a second night entertainment center, Megan MacGlashan said the idea is the City has a number of tourism related assets, but there is an opportunity to market the City as a second night destination; a place where people will want to spend the night and have a second day of activities.

Mark Roffers discussed Advanced Redevelopment Activities. A lot of this will happen in the Janesville Avenue corridor. One of the recommendation is to create a more detailed corridor plan and strategy, and to consider setting up a TIF District along with looking at any grants that might be available.

In the Hoard Farm Preserve, Mark Roffers said that if it weren't there, the Plan would probably suggest the north side interchange would be an area of economic activity. With the Preserve there, the Plan is recommending the City talk with the Farm about the possibility of any development happening on a portion of the Preserve.

Mark Roffers said the City needs to bump-up its standards for development within the extra-territorial jurisdiction. The plats and surveys are reviewed, but there are no strong standards on how they are evaluated. Mark Roffers said that he would get the City a copy of the most recent criteria.

Concerning the City of Jefferson, Mark Roffers said as the communities grow together, the Plan is recommending an intergovernmental discussion and agreement to cover the boundaries of the two extra-territorial jurisdictions. Fort Atkinson and Jefferson staff members have met and decided that Airport Road would serve as the boundary.

Item #5:    Review Next Steps in Planning Process

Mark Roffers said the next step is to put together the first draft of the entire Plan and then present it to the Committee for review and comments at the next meeting. It would then be presented at the next public open house.

Item #6:    Set Next Meeting Date

Mark Zastrow said the next meeting date would be Monday, February 18, 2008.

Item #7:     Adjournment

A motion to adjourn was made by Jill Kessenich, seconded by James Fitzpatrick, and passed by a 6-0 voice vote. The meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Jeffrey L. Woods, P.E.