City holds public hearing on apartments
By Bert Lehman
Clintonville residents expressed concerns at the plan commission’s public hearing regarding the proposed construction of townhouse-like apartments near the city’s industrial park.
Many residents in attendance on Jan. 25 questioned the viability of the location of the multi-family units because of the close proximity to the city’s industrial park. They wondered about children living and playing that close to the industrial park.
Citizens also questioned why new multi-family townhouse-style apartments are needed when there are many vacant houses in the city.
Clintonville Plan Commission Chairman Brad Rokus said the developer who is proposing to build the apartment buildings has developed a business plan and business model for this area.
“They designated this site as the one that fits into their business plan and business model,” Rokus said. “And it’s the property they’re looking to consider in order to undertake the expense of development.”
Clintonville City Administrator Sharon Eveland added, “This developer, they do this all over the state and I cannot image that they would do something like this without doing research as to whether or not it’s sustainable.”
It was also asked if the rent for the apartments would be based on income now or in the future.
“This is not a low income housing unit,” Eveland said.
Later in the meeting Eveland added, “One of the things we’re trying to do is bring in [housing] that is a little bit of a higher step up than what we have.”
David Dyb, superintendent for the Clintonville Public School District, told attendees that the district has a difficult time attracting and retaining good teachers because of the limited amount of quality housing available in the city.
“This is the type of complex that young educators would gravitate to,” Dyb said. “Instead of having to get an apartment in Shawano, or Hortonville, or New London or the [Fox] Valley – and in a year or two, because they don’t like the commute I lose my good, young teachers – these places will attract young teachers and they will stay until they can afford to build a new house.”
With the condition of Robert Street in poor condition, it was asked why reconstruction of that street wasn’t included as one of the projects of the proposed Tax Incremental District.
“We looked at that, but unfortunately we’re talking about over a million dollars to do that street and it would have made the project almost impossible for the TID to be able to handle that,” Eveland said.
One citizen said the city should fix its streets before worrying about building apartment buildings.
“We’re not building the apartments, this is a developer coming in,” Eveland said. “By coming in and bringing the development in it increases our tax base and gives us more available funds.”
“I look at this project as an opportunity to tackle some of the issues we have in this area without impacting the taxpayer,” Rokus said. “We’re able to grow our tax revenue and development, which we’re all just starving for to help mitigate some of the tax impacts on the rest of the community.”
Eveland added that the city needs to bring in development to increase its tax base. She said that manufacturers in the city that she has met with have told her that they currently can’t find enough employees, and if more manufacturers are added to the city, that employment problem will become worse.
“We don’t have places for people to live,” Eveland said. “We don’t have quality housing. Those are the comments I’m hearing. And this is something that can potentially alleviate some of those concerns.”
She added, “I think we have to start taking steps to try to improve the city and I genuinely think this is a way to do it.”
Prior to the close of the public hearing, a citizen brought up a proposed development project in the last few years that was approved by the city but never materialized.
Eveland said the developers for the proposed apartment buildings by the industrial park would have, if the agreement is approved, until Dec. 31, 2019, to complete the project.
“For every unit that’s not completed by that date, [the developer] will lose $12,000 of the developer’s incentive,” Eveland said. “It has to be occupancy ready.”
Also to protect the city, Eveland said if the assessed value of the project after it is completed is less than $4 million the developers will also lose part of the developer’s incentive.
“I worked very hard to try to make sure [the city is protected],” Eveland said. “Our attorney has looked at it.”
Before the public hearing was closed, Eveland thanked the residents for attending.
“Even if you guys disagree with the project I am presenting, I do value the input, and it is important for us to hear that,” Eveland said.