City planners review developer’s proposal
By Scott Bellile
The New London Planning Commission will consider including commercial buildings in a subdivision development proposed west of New London High School.
Developer Carl Romenesko, who first presented his proposal to the New London Finance and Personnel Committee in September, attended the planning commission’s Nov. 29 meeting to expand upon his ideas.
Romenesko, president of Appleton-based Romenesko Developments Inc., owns a 16-acre farm property north of Dawn Drive on County Highway W in the town of Mukwa. He would annex into the city of New London.
He presented to the commission three sketches of conceptual layouts on Nov. 29. Two were solely residential while the other also included two commercial buildings comprising 4 acres total.
Debate over commercial use
Romenesko said with the high amount of traffic on County W, the land along the road could be prime real estate for service businesses.
He would own the structures upon completion and lease the space to businesses. He said the buildings could accommodate four tenants each.
“I think there’s neighbors out there that would love to see a chiropractor or a dental office or an eye doctor or a Curves for Women. … It could be a day care,” Romenesko said.
Romenesko owns commercial buildings throughout the Fox Valley. He said his other tenants include financial advisers, engineers and a heart cardiologist.
Alternatively, Romenesko said he could set aside land to market as commercial property, and if there were no takers after a few years, he could build residential properties there instead.
Mayor and Commissioner Gary Henke said businesses on County W would be far away from the city’s retail businesses across town.
“My opinion is I don’t think that’s a good area for commercial just for the simple fact it would be the only thing out there,” Henke said.
“Plus it’s right next to the high school, and a couple of times a day there’s a hell of a lot of traffic out there,” he added.
Commissioner Steve Thompson said he likes the commercial option. The high school traffic could make the site perfect for a gas station, he said.
“I think sometimes people are saying, ‘If we only had a place to get a gallon of milk on the south side of town. Everything is north,’” Commissioner Ron Steinhorst added.
Commissioner Susie Steingraber asked the commission if the city has received inquiries from professionals such as dentists or chiropractors who want to start a business but have nowhere to locate.
“I haven’t heard of any,” Henke said.
Existing businesses could be surveyed regarding whether they would consider moving to that area if they were to expand, Romenesko said.
Under the commercial option, Romenesko would develop the two commercial buildings and 20 residential lots.
Under the two residential-only options, he would develop 26 or 36 residential lots, depending on whether the plan commission asked him to keep or remove an existing farmhouse he owns along County W.
Thirty-six residential units sold at $235,000 each would add around $8 million in property value to the city, he said.
Romenesko said he could build three to five homes per year. He could also sell land in the subdivision to homebuilders.
While Romenesko would own the commercial buildings, he would sell any residences he built.
Construction of the proposed subdivision is contingent upon two actions: Romenesko must annex his land into the city of New London, and the New London City Council must agree to extend water and sewer lines to his property.
City officials said annexation should not be difficult.
As for the second point, the planning commission voted to authorize City Administrator Kent Hager to negotiate a contract with Romenesko.
The contract would establish that the city would pay to extend utilities to the site. The contract would also set the number of homes and the deadline for Romenesko’s project.
City officials expect extending water, sanitary sewer and electrical service to the property line would cost $300,000 to $350,000.
Hager said one downside to installing the utilities is all the land surrounding Romenesko’s property is already developed with Mukwa homes, besides New London High School to the east.
The neighboring Mukwa homes have their own wells and septic systems, so it is doubtful they would ever annex into the city, hook on to the newly installed water and sanitary sewer system and become city utilities customers, Hager said.
Henke said he is OK with that. The utilities revenues generated from Romenesko’s subdivision alone would pay off after five to 10 years, he said.
Depending on how fast the city council moves to extend water, sewer and electrical service, Romenesko said he could begin construction next year.
The New London City Council on Dec. 11 approved hiring McMahon Associates for up to $28,000 to provide design, bid and construction services to extend sanitary sewer and water service on Klatt Road.
The planning commission plans to select one of Romenesko’s three concepts at its next meeting.
The meeting will be held Jan. 24, 2019 at 5 p.m. at the New London Municipal Building, 215 N. Shawano St. It is open to the public.
The city council would review the planning commission’s recommendation sometime after January. The council would also hold a public hearing on the matter.
Town of Mukwa residents would be welcome to speak at the public hearing, City Clerk Jackie Beyer told the Press Star.