Big Merton development size reduced
Developer wants larger lots

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Oct. 12, 2018

MERTON — High-end, large lot residential developers in Lake Country usually try to cram as many lots as possible into their development plans while at the same time meeting strict municipal standards for open spaces.

But Albin “Chip” Halquist and his development team are doing just the opposite in Merton.

Halquist told the Plan Commission on Wednesday night he is reducing the number of lots in his proposed 135-acre residential development located near the intersection of Hwy KE (Winkelman Road) and Ainsworth Road on the village’s southern boundary with Hartland, Lisbon and the Town of Merton.

The farmland is owned by the four grandsons of Albin “Stoney” Halquist, the founder of the Halquist Stone Company, although the brothers are no longer associated with the stone company, according to Halquist.

During the August Plan Commission meeting, Halquist presented a proposal that included 90 lots ranging in size from one to three acres.

However, at Wednesday’s meeting, Halquist told the commissioners a new plan includes 68 rather than 90 lots.

Halquist explained he is reducing the number of lots on the advice of his marketing consultant, real estate agent Liz Tobolt.

Halquist anticipates final plans will be presented to the commission in early 2019. Halquist’s plans are likely to win quick approval from the village because the development is compatible with the village’s long-range land use plan and does not require conditional uses or approval as a planned unit development, according to Village Administrator Tom Nelson. Tobolt told the commission the development will be more attractive and marketable if there are a larger number of 3-acre lots than was originally proposed.

“The three-acre estate lots give homeowners more flexibility where they can locate the home on the lot and the kinds of accessory buildings they can have,” she later told The Freeman.

Requesting private drives, stop sign

She added that because of the unusually hilly topography of the land, “there are some incredible views” from some of the lots.

However, because of the topography, according to Halquist, it is necessary to build three private drives that will serve about 10 homes in the development.

However, private drives are no longer permitted in the village, according to Nelson.

Nelson told the commissioners they should either waive the village ordinance prohibiting private drives or allow Halquist to build substandard village street to serve the 10 homes.

Village President Ron Reinowski said he would prefer Halquist be allowed to build the substandard public street.

The standard village street has 60 feet of right of way and includes curbs and gutters.

Halquist said he could build streets with a 40-foot-wide right of way serving the 10 homes.

Reinowski said he wanted Josh Paral, chief of the Merton Community Fire Department, to review the street plans for fire and emergency medical service equipment access before the Plan Commission decided on the streets.

Halquist’s planning consultant Keith Kindred of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. encouraged village officials to ask Waukesha County for a three-way stop at the intersection of Hwy KE and Ainsworth Road.

Kindred told the commission the intersection is dangerous because there is not enough distance for drivers at the intersection to see oncoming cars because of the hilly topography.

He noted that Ainsworth is going to be one of the primary accesses to and from the proposed development. He said county officials might also consider reducing the speed limit on Hwy KE because of the anticipated increase in traffic on the road because of the new development.

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