Developers trending to multi-family housing
Homeowners show resistance to some projects

By ALEX ZANK - Daily News

Oct. 12, 2015

In particular, the city’s planning department has been busy with plans submitted for residential development, as evidenced by the most recent Plan Commission meeting.

On Tuesday, commissioners considered three different proposals that in some way incorporated multi-family housing. Between the three plans were 217 potential new units.

But when residential developments are brought in front of the commission, members tend to meet with skepticism those that are next to single-family houses.

As has been shown at meetings this summer, some homeowners have a strong distaste for apartments coming in next door.

Keeping both perspectives in mind, especially when they are at odds with each other, results in a balancing act for the commission.

Jed Dolnick joined the Plan Commission in 2004, with his current term running through 2016.

“I’ve been on the commission a long time, and the tradition is we try to have a buffer between multi-family housing and single-family,” he said.

Typically, they like to see two-family housing in between to act as that buffer. In other instances, landscaping or other features may be enough.

So what’s the fuss when multi-family housing plans, especially larger project adjacent to single-family neighborhoods, come to the commission?

“There’s a perception on the part of some people that multi-family housing detracts from the community,” he said. He emphasized that’s a stance he doesn’t necessarily hold, saying it’s up to owners to provide building upkeep.

And the bottom line is that aldermen are the ones ultimately determining how much land is zoned for multi-family housing.

“It’s a political decision on zoning multi-family, because it’s ultimately City Council approving (those zoning plans),” he said.

The Plan Commission’s responsibilities are narrowly focused by state law, Dolnick said. It has to take into account what the proper land use is for a given area.

Developers of multi-family housing taking an interest in the area say it’s a profitable venture. The smallest of the three residential development proposals Tuesday evening came from a developer looking to add nine units to the Valley View apartments on South Main Street.

Greg Kost, managing principal with AcQuest Property Group, said the developer planned to get rid of a single-family home and one of two duplexes, replacing them with two six-unit buildings, on a parcel which already includes other apartment buildings.

“We own the property there, so we have other residents,” Kost said. “Based on their comments and needs … I don’t think we will have a problem filling them.”

Not all the development plans have gone through the commission without scrutiny.

After commissioners expressed concern with the 168-unit development from BASCO Development Tuesday night, they did not propose an action to set a public hearing date for them.

Charles Boysa of BASCO Development was out of the office Friday and wasn’t available for comment before press time on whether the Watertown-based developer was planning to submit an alternative concept to the city.

Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, inviting Boysa to submit another plan, asked at Tuesday’s Plan Commission meeting if there was anything he wanted to say before commission members. Boysa declined to speak.

In a previous Daily News article, Boysa said the developer was interested in the area because they saw a high demand for more high-quality apartments.

At a Plan Commission meeting this summer, he told commissioners duplexes were not very profitable, hence the reason BASCO Development was pursuing multi-family housing.

This was back when they submitted a concept for 144 units.

And it’s not just residential development plans the city has been getting this year.

West Bend has seen plans for a Meijer store, Gardner Pet Group and Delta Defense LLC headquarters this year, among other large developments.

There was also the announcement that Gardner Pet Group was moving operations to West Bend from China.

In a previous Daily News article, City Administrator and Director of Development T.J. Justice attributed a spike in development, residential in particular, to a rebounding market.

He said economic conditions have changed drastically over the past year, which has set developers’ sights on more projects.

Reach reporter Alex Zank at