rendering of what one of the stacked flats buildings
will potentially look like at the
Pabst Farms apartments.
Rendering from Mandel Group
OCONOMOWOC – The proposed Pabst
Farms Apartments received a positive recommendation from the Plan
Commission Wednesday night and will move on to the Common Council
The 315-unit, near 35-acre apartment complex has been proposed by
Milwaukee multi-family development firm Mandel Group for the lot
between Valley Road and Oconomowoc Parkway, just west of Summit
Commissioners voted to amend the comprehensive land use plan to
allow for high density residential and to rezone the property for
multi-family residential units.
Although the purpose of the meeting was intended to discuss land use
and zoning, many residents of Eastlake Village and Kings Way
condominiums took the opportunity to discuss concerns such as
traffic, safety and Oconomowoc’s future.
For residents, one of the greatest concerns was how Oconomowoc is
seeing an abundance of multi-family developments and not enough
single-family. Resident Linda Coleman said often the media portrays
how there is a “housing crisis,” but this is not the case in
Oconomowoc, she added.
“I don’t think we have a crisis in this town,” Coleman said. “We
just want a small-town feel.”
Equally important for residents is the amount of traffic the
development could generate on Valley Road, which is the main
thoroughfare used by parents and children coming to and from Summit
Elementary School — a sentiment also shared by some commissioners.
“I have concerns with traffic and if there’s any way to get traffic
onto Oconomowoc Parkway and into Highway 67,” said Derek Zwart,
alderman and plan commissioner.
A northwesterly exit from the development to Oconomowoc Parkway has
been considered, but some challenges exist, said Mark Frye, director
of public works.
“The big thing is the topography and that would have to be looked
at,” Frye said. “There’s a 10- to 15foot drop in that area that you
would have to look at.”
Mandel Group Vice President Ian Martin said a third-party traffic
study that was conducted indicated “no technical failure” at any
intersection, but a left turn lane from Valley Road into the
development was suggested.
Martin also said he would look at alternative ways to slow down
traffic on the road, including speed readers, landscape medians and
raised pedestrian crossings. But Martin admitted such safety
features would require additional approvals from the county since
Valley Road is owned by the county.
“All of those options we’re going to explore,” Martin said. “Since
it is owned by the county, any pressure the city can bring to bear
to get them to consider these options would help.”
Despite possible traffic remedies, Commissioner John Gross voted
against the project for more reasons than traffic.
“I’m not a fan of the high density, especially on such a large
parcel,” Gross said. “We have to be careful where we allow something
like this and at what size.”
Commissioner Steven Ritt disagreed with Gross and instead, viewed
the project as a potential catalyst with the ability to carry on the
momentum from recent development in the Pabst Farms area.
“We’re lucky to have someone like Mandel and Wangard coming here to
Oconomowoc,” said Ritt. “These folks are topnotch developers and we
should give them a chance.”
The Common Council is slated to review the project at a public
hearing on Tuesday.
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