Clearwater Apartments project in Waukesha put on hold

City of Waukesha
A rendering of the proposed Clearwater Apartments on the City of Waukesha's far southwest side. The project calls for two 18-unit buildings, one 19-unit complex and four, four-unit townhouses.
Published on: 2/25/2014

Alderman Aaron Perry said his and the neighbors' opposition to the proposed Clearwater Apartments on the city's far southwest side isn't a "not in my-backyard type of argument."

"It's about finishing a larger, higher-density neighborhood in an ideal way," Perry said.

But whether this area — 8.53 acres along Clearwater Lane at Stillwater Circle in the River's Crossing subdivision — is finished with the proposed 71 residential units remains to be seen, after the Waukesha Plan Commission put the project on hold at its Feb. 19 meeting.

Mayor Jeff Scrima made the motion to delay a vote on the project so all parties can work toward a compromise.

After neighbors and the alderman who represents the area expressed concerns for more than an hour at the meeting, Scrima asked whether more community outreach could be done by the developer.

"I believe this would provide the developer and the alderman and neighbors to further discuss what's been brought up and work together for a final solution so we can be much more comfortable in our decision," Scrima said.

The city's planning department recommended approval for the preliminary site and architectural plans for the project, which includes two 18-unit buildings, one 19-unit complex and four, four-unit townhouses, said Doug Koehler, a planner for the City of Waukesha, at last week's meeting.

Updates to plan

Koehler said the River's Crossing subdivision plan was approved in 1998 and called for 409 single-family homes, 172 condo units and 224 apartment units.

Koehler said that now, 16 years later, more single-family lots have been added to this plan (510) and fewer apartment units.

With the neighbors hesitant about the apartment complex, Koehler said the developer — A-Squared Development LLC — has been "very sensitive about how they laid out this site."

This includes adding a large stormwater pond after the developer worked closely with the city Water Utility Department.

Perry lists concerns

Perry specified four areas of concern:

·excess traffic the development would create

·the flooding that already exists in this area

·how bringing more apartments would affect the housing mix in the city

·emergency response times. While the proposed area is just within the fire department's seven-minute response time, Perry said it's still a concern.

Abby Brzezinski, A-Squared Development's registered agent, said the firm has done "extensive studies" on the water concerns and has revised its plans to include extra landscape and extensive vegetation.

Koehler said the developer has also made concessions from three- to four-story apartments to two.

Not interested in condos

Regarding the traffic concerns, Brzezinski noted that the plan for the subdivision included multifamily (the proposed area is zoned multifamily) and said "multifamily tax dollars is the same as single-family."

The area could have been rezoned to single-family last year. The Plan Commission recommended in favor of the rezoning, but the Common Council denied it.

When asked if the developer would consider condos instead of rental units, Brzezinski said she wouldn't see a scenario where that would occur.

"We don't feel there's a market for that right now," Brzezinski said. "The condo market is not feasible in the near term."

The Plan Commission also wanted access to a water report for this area and an update on the city's ratio of single-family homes vs. multifamily. The city's goal is to be at 65 percent single-family and 35 percent multifamily.

There were a handful of residents who spoke against the complex, but one said he is in favor of it.

"Renters are just like anybody else," said Mark Resch, who added that nearby business will be "dead" if this project doesn't go through.