Preliminary plat approved for Highland Ridge Estates
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – A preliminary plat to subdivide the northern portion of the Highland Ridge Golf Course into a residential development with 134 single-family lots was approved last month by the village board.
Trustee Tracy Flucke, who objected to the plans not including sidewalks, cast the lone dissenting vote.
Community Development Director Aaron Schuette said the southern portion will remain a nine-hole golf course for the foreseeable future.
“The property is all zoned R-1 residential already,” he said. “The proposed lots all meet the minimum standards for the R-1 zoning district. Lot sizes vary from 11,700 square feet to 39,057 square feet.”
Schuette said the plat has a narrow shape because of being next to the golf course and environmental features in the area.
Schuette said the village’s Bike and Ped Committee looked at the plat and recommended “pedestrian accommodations.”
“The village’s subdivision ordinance does explicitly identify those required utilities, street and other improvements… required for new subdivision plats,” he said.
“Sidewalks were not listed in there, which is why that was not initially brought forward. But that is something that Bike and Ped did want to have discussed at village board.”
Schuette said the developer, Trevor Thompson, and Doug Woelz of McMahon Associates proposed a 10-foot wide, multi-use trail on the north side of Highland Ridge Drive and then on the west side of Hank Avenue.
Trustee Gary Paul said he likes the idea of having a trail in the subdivision.
“I like the exit into the par-three golf course,” he said. “I think that is another access that will extend out to the golf course, or eventually out to… Sand Acres Drive… I’m really not for sidewalks. I don’t think that’s something we should get into, because we do not have that in our ordinances, and I don’t care to see them in our ordinances.”
Flucke, who chairs the Bike and Ped Committee, said the pathway will cross a lot of vehicle crossings and not be suitable from a safety standpoint.
“Typically, side paths, you want in an area that you do not have a lot of crossings,” she said. “They may be adjacent to a river. They may be adjacent to an impervious surface of some kind. They’re much safer in that type of application.”
Flucke said having sidewalks in the subdivision would be safer.
“This subdivision will have 131 homes in it, with potentially small children, young families and senior citizens,” she said. “They will be moving through this subdivision particularly to head over to Sand Acres Park, which is across Sand Acres Drive.”
Flucke said the village should make the community as safe as possible for people moving in, and having sidewalks on all the roads in the subdivision would make it more appealing.
“When I look at projects in the village, I always think of people, property and everything else,” she said. “When I’m reviewing this type of thing, I want to make sure that our residents, our future residents, are safe.”
Flucke said she would recommend requiring sidewalks in the development to allow people to walk safely through it.
She said she also favored an enhanced crossing for bikes and pedestrians for the one access point coming out of Highland Ridge Estates out to Sand Acres, where there is a path and park on the east side.
For example, Flucke said sidewalks and crosswalks were enhanced along Cormier Road.
Paul said he didn’t think Cormier Road was a good example of what Highland Ridge Estates should have because Cormier is a through-street in the village with a higher speed limit.
“In this (subdivision), I’m assuming it’ll be a 25 mph speed limit through here…,” he said. “To put the sidewalks in this development is an excessive cost to the developer, which is going to be pushed on to you people that are going to buy a lot and to live in this area. The developer’s trying to make this as safe as possible, and doing a trail to give you the opportunity of having some place to walk, some place that you can get out and do it at a much more reasonable price for you people.”
Thompson said having a path on the north side of Highland Ridge Drive made more sense than sidewalks on both sides of the street to avoid interfering with water mains, fire hydrants and the stormwater system.
“Since we were eliminating the 4-foot sidewalk on both, say, the north and south end, that’s where the 10-foot trail on the north side came to allow for the increase in travel by eliminating the south end,” he said.
Woelz said a path on the north side was a better option, given the stormwater pond and the pond’s sloping in the development.
Village President Mary Kardoskee said having the trail in the subdivision is “a good compromise, considering that in our ordinance, it does not require sidewalks.”
“This developer developed this subdivision knowing that it didn’t have to have sidewalks,” she said. “If that were to get changed, I think that that would, you know, they would then have to put in sidewalks in subdivisions, but we don’t have it right now.”
Village Manager Joel Gregozeski said bicycle and pedestrian improvements are not explicitly stated in the village code for developing a subdivision, but there is an opportunity for the board to require certain other improvements, such as requiring either sidewalk or trail.
“At this point, it’s really kind of more of a question of what is the preferred facility, if any,” he said.
Gregozeski said sidewalk installed next to private property would have to be maintained in the winter by the adjacent property owner, but that is not the case for a trail next to private property.
“However, if we have this nice 10-foot wide pedestrian trail in that subdivision and 134 residents or homes, there’s going to be a desire to have that trail maintained in the winter,” he said. “There will be a constant push and struggle to ensure that maintenance.”
Gregozeski said the nearby Sand Acres Trail is currently not maintained in winter.
“If you do maintain the sidewalk in the winter unless the village decides to provide maintenance on Sand Acres Trail, that will not be maintained in the winter,” he said. “There’s going to be that constant connectivity challenge that the village will face with adding those improvements.”
The board’s motion in favor of having a trail through the subdivision also included having an enhanced crossing for Sand Acres Drive.
Public Works Director Doug Martin asked the board for clarity as to what to include in the enhanced crossing.
“If the enhanced crossing is going to be (the responsibility of) the village, that is something we’ll have to take and run with and figure out,” he said. “If that’s a cost that the village is going to be undertaking, we don’t need to have a direction for the developer.”
Flucke said the enhanced crossing “should not be just white lines going across Sand Acres.”
“That’s not going to cut it,” she said. “You really need to have something that really sets off that there’s a crossing here, whether it’s lights, whether it’s a median in the middle of Sand Acres, so you have a stage crossing for bikes and (pedestrians).”
Flucke said the developer should participate in an enhanced crossing, which will be an access point to the development, with the developer sharing in the cost.
Trustee Steve Kubacki said the developer should cover half the cost of the enhanced crossing, which would also benefit those who don’t live in the subdivision.
“Doug, you can use your judgment (with the enhanced crossing),” he said. “We trust it explicitly, and if there’s some direction from others that you would be able to glean that would make that a safe intersection without substantial costs… We’re not trying to make this an explicitly high cost to the developer.”
Thompson said it makes sense to have an enhanced crossing to tie into the trail system.
“When it comes to the cost, I just want to be clear… if it’s going to be a 50-50 split,” he said. “I just want to make sure cost is kept in mind, both for the developer and the village – that we’re not going over and above for something… Having a marked barrier as described with a solar panel (and) flashing (lights) makes some sense to draw attention to traffic, to be aware of pedestrians.”
Thompson said he would be interested in working with village staff on the enhanced crossing plan with a 50-50 cost split.
“I’m willing to share that cost,” he said. “To absorb the whole cost on the property I don’t own could be a stretch, but I believe 50-50 would be a good compromise.”
Upon approval of the preliminary plat, Schuette said final plats will be phased in three separate sections.
He said a final plat for the northern portion of the subdivision would include about 40 lots.