Say NO to High Density Apartments in Historic Downtown Cedarburg
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The City of Cedarburg is at a crossroads regarding the proposed sale of the old school property owned by St. Francis Borgia Church. Thoughts to consider: that St. Francis Borgia receives a fair price for this property (Current SFB debt is a driving force in executing this sale for $1.5 million); transforming this property into affordable, long-term housing like townhomes needed for people looking to downsize or enter the housing market (News Graphic Business section 2/21/17- “Ozaukee homes sales flat” because of “lack of listings…” and “fewer listings…aren’t any homes for sellers to move into…”); that new development fits the site with its mature trees, nearby historic homes, churches and unique downtown filled with small-scale buildings as well as be compatible with the city’s own Smartgrowth plan at 10.8 units per acre versus the proposed 25 units per acre. In order to make logical decisions, let’s consider current statements.
Statement: The project has been scaled back to 69 units and is the best residential option. Decide for yourself: The overall scope of this plan compared to adjoining neighborhood homes is so huge that it requires retention ponds. Building edges on two of the three units were softened from three-stories to two-stories - a minimal adjustment. Cedarburg’s Landmark Commission voted against changing the historic district’s boundaries and tearing down the rectory which the developer has requested as part of this project. (“Once people see how you go about removing something from the historic district, I could see other developers using the same tactic,” said Tom Kubala, a city Landmarks Commission member.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/12/16)
Statement: Traffic will be less than previous school traffic. Decide for yourself: Since the traffic study will not be commissioned until after the project is approved, we have to look at what we do know. Sixty-nine apartments could mean 138 vehicles for residents, guests, employees and contract workers on an ongoing basis. When church services are offered, this will compound congestion in a tight area.
Statement: There is a need for higher-end apartments in an under-served market. Decide for yourself: Where is the study for our area supporting this idea? Most of us were previous renters and maybe are currently. Proposed rents for these units are between $1,200 and $2,000 per month. Who wants to pay more rent than necessary and has anyone ever known rent to go down? When considering retirement, isn’t it important to keep costs low and fixed whenever possible? If you are one of many who hopes to achieve the American Dream of home ownership, how does a high-rent apartment help achieve this goal?
Statement: The SFB broker has said that developing this property will be feasible only if it is a large-scale development which helps justify the $1.5 million price tag. Decide for yourself: Brokers typically earn income based upon the selling price so that creates a vested interest justifying this project.
Statement: Complaints from out-of-town voices shouldn’t be taken very seriously. Decide for yourself: Thousands attend our festivals, shop at our stores and spread the word about Cedarburg’s historic charm. Our last Winter Festival generated approximately 15,000 visitors as reported by one store owner and the numbers keep rising. Approximately 1,000 folks including residents signed an online petition against this project. The reality is out-of-town visitors are our bread and butter.
Now is the time to attend the upcoming March 6 (planning commission meeting) and the March 13 (council meeting) – both at 7 p.m. and send a letter or email to the city clerk, city council and mayor before the 3/13 public hearing and meeting. City residents, concerned business owners and visitors have invested time and money in Cedarburg, helping grow its future and deserve to be heard. The time is now to act on behalf of your city.
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