Planning commission chooses residential-only proposal
By Scott Bellile
A 16-acre subdivision in development immediately west of New London High School will not contain commercial buildings.
The New London Planning Commission unanimously approved a fully residential proposal on Jan. 24.
This occurred after commissioners received feedback from town of Mukwa residents who opposed commercial-use suggestions offered last year by developer Carl Romenesko, the president of Appleton’s Romenesko Developments Inc.
While Romenesko always planned for his development to be primarily residential, he said at a November planning commission meeting that, if the city desired, he could set aside 4 acres to develop commercial buildings for uses such as medical offices, a gymnasium, a day care or a gas station.
Commissioner and New London Mayor Gary Henke said last week he recently received emails from four or five New London and Mukwa residents who were not on board.
“The consensus from those [complaints] seems to be they do not want commercial out in that area,” Henke said. “This [is] residential area, and they would prefer it remain residential.”
Per a development agreement approved by the New London City Council on Jan. 15, Romenesko must develop at least 26 residences on his farmland located between County Highway W and Klatt Road near Dawn Drive. At least 10 lots must be developed within the next 10 years.
A total of 36 residences will likely be developed, according to New London Zoning Administrator Paul Hanlon. The option also includes two cul-de-sacs and a detention pond.
The land is vacant except for a farmhouse Romenesko owns on County W just west of New London High School’s athletic stadium.
Commissioners agreed Romenesko should demolish the farmhouse rather than keep it as part of the development.
The state Department of Administration is in the process of reviewing Romenesko’s request to annex his town of Mukwa property into the city of New London.
The city of New London, seeking to benefit from the subdivision’s estimated $8 million increase in property value, has offered to pay to extend water and sanitary sewer service to Romenesko’s property if he annexes into the city. The city’s contribution will total no more than $320,000.
About 20 town of Mukwa residents attended the planning commission meeting to learn details about the proposed subdivision.
The residents were not offered the opportunity to comment on the matter during the meeting. They will have to wait until the public hearing, which must be held when the city places a formal zoning designation onto the property. Hanlon said that will take place in April or May.
Mukwa resident Paul Drzewiecki, who attended the meeting, told the Press Star he and his neighbors showed up because they were against allowing Romenesko’s property to become commercial.
Drzewiecki said surrounding residents did not want increased traffic, noise or nighttime lighting that would come with having businesses nearby.
People live outside the city to avoid such distractions in the first place, Drzewiecki said.
Soil boring approved
To move ahead with the subdivision project, the New London City Council on Jan. 15 approved a $3,135 bid by Neenah-based Engineering Consulting Services to perform soil borings in preparation of extending sanitary sewer lines and water lines to Romenesko’s site.
The soil borings will help provide information about the soil types and groundwater conditions.
The city’s engineering firm, McMahon Associates, will then pass along that information to the contractors that will eventually bid on performing the utility extensions.
“[T]he purpose for the soil borings is to help the engineers and especially the contractors know the potential need for dewatering and trench wall stability for the project,” New London Public Services Director Chad Hoerth wrote in a memo to the city council on Jan. 11. “If we run the sewer [lines] near the road, poor soils could result in wider than normal trenches which the contractor would need to know to accurately estimate their costs [for extending utilities] instead of throwing out high bid numbers for unknown conditions.”
In other words, the fewer surprises the contractors can expect to encounter when they dig into the soil to extend the utilities, the lower they will bid to do the job, saving the city money.
Hoerth stated in his memo ECS will provide the results of the soil boring in mid-February, allowing for the city to put the utility extension project to bid at the end of February.
ECS provided the middle-cost bid of three firms. But the firm was selected by the city council because the lowest bidder, Professional Service Industries of Kaukauna at $2,795, would have completed the soil borings two weeks later than ECS.