Barnwood Conservancy gains key approvals
Lawyers to review new ordinance

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Feb. 6, 2018

TOWN OF LISBON – Developers of the Barnwood Conservancy residential development near the intersection of Lake Five Road and Silver Spring Drive gained some key approvals from the Plan Commission.

And, for the second time in three weeks, citizens who initially opposed the development did not attend a commission meeting, At Thursday night’s meeting, the commission informally approved a preliminary plat and a declaration of restrictions for the 52-lot, 75-acre development.

The declaration of restrictions outlines square footage, architectural design, building materials, and distances between homes, that home owners and builders must observe.

Town Chairman Joe Osterman and Commissioner Mark Meyer said they believed the restrictions addressed some of the concerns that were raised by homeowners living in neighborhoods adjacent to the proposed development.

The neighbors have argued most of the lots are about 30,000 square feet rather than one acre (42,000 square feet), and therefore the new houses will be smaller and result in reducing the property values of larger homes on one acre lots in adjacent subdivisions.

There are 39 lots of about 30,000 square feet and 13 lots of about one acre, according to the plans.

Meyer questioned how the restrictions can be enforced since typically enforcement is the responsibility of the developer and home owners in the development, not the town.

Town Planner Daniel J. Lindstrom explained that the restrictions could be incorporated into the agreement between the town and the developer that will be part of the final approval for the project.

The approval process for Barnwood includes the drafting of a new ordinance that gives the town board the authority to create special zoning districts for unique developments.

The new ordinance is the product of a legal opinion issued by the town’s law firm of Cramer, Multhauf & Hammes.

According to the opinion, for planned unit developments like Barnwood to be built, the town board must approve any necessary land use and zoning changes, create a special zoning district for the development, and approve a conditional use permit.

During its January and February meetings, the plan commission reviewed a draft of the ordinance prepared by the town staff and at Thursday night’s meeting tentatively recommended it to the Town Board for adoption.

However, some commissioner members appeared to be uncertain whether town attorneys had thoroughly reviewed the draft ordinance.

Town Chairman Joe Osterman asked Administrator Matt Janecke if the firm’s managing partner, James Hammes, had reviewed the document.

Janecke did not answer directly but told the commission that Hammes’s partner, Katheryn Gutenkunst, who usually represents the town on legal matters, had been involved it the discussions about the ordinance although she had not formally approved it.

According to town documents, Gutenkunst was told she would not have to attend the commission meeting even though discussion and possible action on the ordinance was on the agenda.

Commissioners Jane Stadler and Chad Samanske initially expressed reservations about the commission acting on the proposed ordinance without knowing if the lawyers had reviewed the document.

“This is a big thing. We want to make sure we do it right,” Stadler said.

However, they agreed to vote to recommend the ordinance to the town board contingent on the lawyers’ review.

The commission agreed they would review the document again if the law firm suggested major changes after reviewing the proposal.