Nashotah development in early stages aims to break the mold
Would encourage community, preserve farmland

By Ryan Billingham - Freeman Staff

May 15, 2015

NASHOTAH - A new non-traditional residential development is taking shape in Nashotah.

In 2011 a group of Lake Country-based investors who wish to remain anonymous purchased the Mertins family farm along Highway C in Nashotah.

The group plans to sell 24 acres of the 237-acre parcel to Illinois-based Streetscape USA for development, and preserve the remaining land through a trust with Tall Pines Conservancy.

The residential development will be a unique environment meant to encourage community and promote lifestyle over square footage, said John McClinden, owner of Streetscape USA.

“We treat the home as a consumer product,” he said.

The plan is in what McClinden called “very preliminary stages” but also said his company is “absolutely committed” to bringing the project to fruition.

The development would feature 36 two-story homes with large front porches, greenspace, a greenhouse and other features not usually found in newer developments.

Nashotah Village President Richard Lartz said the early plan was received “very positively” at a recent meeting of the Plan Commission.

“It would be great for the tax base, have a minimal impact on schools, a minimal impact on village services and be a calling card for the area,” Lartz said.

It also provides a way to preserve farmland in the county, Lartz said. The undeveloped acreage, part of the Mertins family farm once owned by Bill Mertins and then his sons, would be preserved in perpetuity in a land trust through Tall Pines Conservancy.

Susan Buchanan, executive director of Tall Pines, said she is excited about the possibility of preserving the land but acknowledged the project is in its initial stages.

“We haven’t even gone through our process,” Buchanan said.

McClinden said the concept has been well received, and indicated there is a demand for homes under 2,500 square feet in Lake Country.

The small homes are energy efficient and lower maintenance than traditional developments in the area. That’s something McClinden feels can be attractive to all types of homeowners, particularly young professionals and retirees.

McClinden said the next step in the process will be to continue to speak with local group about the initial plan for a few months then bring a more formal proposal to the township.