Despite opposition from about 10 adjacent property
owners, developers of a proposed multi-family housing
development on the former Barton School property cleared
two hurdles Tuesday night in their push to have the
project become reality.
Plan Commission approved changing the official land use
designation for the property at 614 School Place in the
city’s comprehensive plan from institutional to
multi-family. In a second action, the commission
approved changing the property’s zoning from I-1
Institutional, Public Service and RS-3 Single Family to
Fond du Lac-based Commonwealth Development Corp. agreed
to purchase the school property from the West Bend
School District earlier this year for $600,000. The
developer submitted a concept to the city at an October
meeting that included three six-unit townhouse
apartments located in a grassy field to the west and
northwest sections of the property as well as 22 units
inside the former school.
Some citizens and a few commissioners took issue during
the public hearing at City Hall with multi-family
housing being built so close to single-family homes.
concerned about the proximity of the multi-family
housing to the single-family,” Commissioner Jed Dolnick
said. He voted against the comprehensive plan change and
“This just doesn’t fit in the area,” said neighbor
October Dymond. “I live within 200 feet of the school
and bought my property there because it was an area
mainly with single family homes. I’m concerned about the
traffic and what having multiple housing units built
nearby will do to my property value. If you were looking
to buy a single family home, would you want it across
the street from multiple-family housing units?”
Another neighbor, Dawn Luera, expressed the same opinion
and said the best use of the land would be as a city
“That’s the first I’ve heard that the city needs more
parks,” said Mayor Kraig Sadownikow.
Dolnick said the city doesn’t own the property, the
school district does, and the city would have to come up
with the money for buying the land.
“It’s not a property the city can turn into a park,”
Dolnick said. “I’m uncomfortable, though, voting on this
without having the final plan for the development.”
Bend Assistant Director of Development Mark Piotrowicz
said any local government that has to make such
decisions has to have “a leap of faith” on what a
developer is proposing because there’s no guarantee
property has to be zoned for their use so they can get
the needed financing,” Piotrowicz said. He said there
can be conditions placed on the developer elsewhere in
the process to meet officials’ and neighbors’ project
Neighbor John Schell also objected to the proposed
bought my house there about 25 years ago,” Schell said.
“Building multi-family units on this property would be a
great disservice to the people around there.” Schell
also complained about additional traffic and more
speeding drivers if the development is completed as
Commissioner Chris Schmidt said he’d love to see a park
on the property, but the commission must consider what
makes the most sense in this setting.
know nearby homeowners have concerns, but they can still
be involved in having some of those concerns addressed
during the hearing process,” Schmidt said.
After the two amendments were approved by the
commission, members emphasized they would make every
effort to make sure nearby residents are informed when
the next public hearing will be scheduled regarding the
final design plans.
Commonwealth Vice President of Development Kevin
McDonell said after the vote it would be at least six
months before any final design plans would be ready for
a public hearing.
“We’ll send an application to WHEDA in January,”
McDonnell said. “Once we know if the tax credits are
available then we can move ahead.”
McDonnell said 15 percent of the development’s proposed
units will be rented at the market rate with the
remaining 85 percent rented on the basis of 60 percent
of the county’s median income. He said the development
would have an on-site manager once it’s completed.
officials were told it’s highly unlikely a shovel of
dirt could be turned on the project until next spring at
Reach reporter Joe VanDeLaarschot at