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New Berlin developer favors condos where single-family homes were planned

But he faces opposition from petitioners

May 14, 2013

New Berlin — A proposed rezoning boiled down to a developer saying that the single-family homes proposed for a mixed residential development won't work there after all and many residents saying they want the single-family homes that were promised.

The 14-acre development known as the North Oak Estates Condominiums, at 14500 W. Beloit Road, consists of five eight-family condominium units and lots for three planned single-family homes along Walnut Court.

Developer James Krahn told the Plan Commission in a public hearing last week that the three single-family homes, planned as a buffer between the five condominium buildings and the homes across the street, won't work because the lots are too close to both Beloit Road and the condos.

The asking prices of the lots have come down from $150,000 to $60,000, and, still, not a single offer has been made, Krahn said — they just won't sell as single family lots.

Krahn said does have a buyer for all three lots, if he can if the city will allow two side-by-side condominiums on each lot.

Some people at the hearing spoke in favor of the proposed rezoning. They noted Krahn has said the potential buyer of the three lots has offered to pay $80,000 to $84,000 for the final layer of asphalt on the related roads, which would save the condo association some money, and generally felt the development would make the area cleaner and add to the tax base.

Single-minded preference

But a petition against the proposed rezoning was presented by a woman who lives along Forest Ridge Drive. She said it contained 56 signatures of people who feels as she does.

"If the will of the people truly means something, please listen to what the 56 property owners are telling you," she said to the commission.

Some owners worry that the duplexes would be rentals attracting families with children and dogs, both of which are already proving disruptive in the condo units that were rented after the condo market sagged. That would only worsen what one resident described as the difficulty potential buyers are having to get mortgages because the complex is now a mix of rentals and owned condos.

Some also said the condominium association is being unfairly influenced by Krahn and family members who own rental condos.

A Beloit Road resident wondered why more condos are being sought when the ones that are already built there are not selling.

Confident of city action

After last week's public hearing, the Plan Commission could give a recommendation as early as June 3 to the New Berlin Common Council.

Despite the petition against the proposed rezoning, Krahn said after the meeting that he was optimistic, noting that the commission had that very night recommended the proposed Walmart rezoning after strong opposition.

"With the action on the Walmart, I'm feeling very optimistic my project will get passed," Krahn said.

He said he also believes the city will appreciate the proposed development of the three lots potentially would add $1.65 million to the city's tax base. He estimated that the six what he called high-end condos would sell for $275,000 each.

Legitimate reason?

Even so, Mayor Dave Ament noted after the meeting that the path toward rezoning might still be rocky.

"He's not the only developer not getting a lot of movement on their land," Ament said. "I'm not sure that should be a reason to rezone — because he can't move his land."

The city must make a decision that's in the best interests of the community, Ament said.

"A fair number of people had legitimate issues," he said.

With the number of property owners opposed, they could file an objection that would call for a supermajority — six of the seven aldermen on the council — to approve a rezoning.

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