Group digs into Cedarburg master plan
Document was drafted four years ago; further tweaks could be coming

By Dave Fidlin - News Graphic Correspondent

Aug. 27, 2015

CEDARBURG — A panel devoted to studying and recommending economic development efforts in the city of Cedarburg’s downtown district is expected to dig into a 4-year-old document and potentially make a series of recommendations.

The city’s Economic Development Board on Tuesday took a glimpse into the nine-page document, which was written by an ad-hoc downtown master plan committee in 2011. The initial intent of the plan was to link Cedarburg’s vast historical characteristics and pole vault the community into the future.

Efforts to craft the master plan go back nearly a decade. The ad-hoc committee met over a span of five years before presenting the Common Council with a draft version of the report.

The plan in its current form touches on four main points, including a missive to encourage and support focused downtown redevelopment.

“Above all, respect the historic base of downtown Cedarburg,” the report states. “Every effort should be made to ensure that the exterior of every building or structure identified by the city of Cedarburg Historic Landmarks Commission as historic remains intact as true as possible to its original design.”

The ad-hoc group pointed to decisions made at the municipal level as a framework for business decisions downtown. Cedarburg’s city hall, for example, is housed in the former high school building, and much of the original characteristics remained during the remodel.

While a respect for Cedarburg’s rich history was at the heart of the document, so, too was a desire to focus on redevelopment efforts. The ad-hoc committee suggested adding more residential developments to the downtown area, asserting, “demand for retail and services provided downtown must be increased.”

To that end, the Common Council ultimately holds the cards in making any further overtures toward increased residential accommodations through zoning and other regulatory mechanisms.

“We recommend the city update the zoning code with regard to setbacks and density requirements to enhance the economic viability of housing developments in or near Cedarburg’s downtown,” the committee wrote.

The two other items on the bullet-point list are common topics that have bubbled to the surface in the past: establishing a long-term parking plan and allocating funds to foster improvements to the heart of the city, which formally is known as the Downtown Historic District.

The council has been slowly looking at some of the recommendations, though efforts could pick up steam as the economy has continued rebounding and developers are bringing in a steadier stream of projects across the region.

For its part, the economic development board did not make any direct suggestions to the document during this week’s discussion. Peter Welch, who chairs the board, suggested members peruse the report and come back with possible talking points when the group reconvenes in late September.

“Let’s read through this and see if there are some items we can pull out,” Welch said.