DeForest residents did not hold back on Thursday, sharing their support, concern, anger and, in one case, unconditional disdain for the work of the village council.
About a dozen DeForest residents appeared at the meetings of the DeForest Village Committee of the Whole and Village Board on June 16, with meetings lasting from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. before the night was adjourned.
The comments came on a variety of topics, but the most common was the ongoing development of the updated master plan for the village, which sets long-term priorities and guidelines for zoning and development in the village.
Offering support for the current plan, John Skypanski said that “there are not enough housing options for seniors,” with the opinion being supported by a resident and member of the DeForest Needs Network, who said the group needed to increase grant applications In order to keep them with the rental costs in the area, affordable housing should not be relegated to a corner of the village, but rather “these possibilities should be diverse and throughout the village”.
Jeffrey Horn, who ran for the DeForest Village Board in the last election, congratulated the Board on the “undiminished success” of pursuing the village goal of “promoting the good life.” However, he was concerned about the Board of Directors’ instruction to approve the multi-family housing development and review options to create more affordable housing.
“People are willing to pay a premium to live here,” said Horn, explaining his expectation that inviting population growth and higher housing density would devalue the current housing and in turn damage property tax revenues, while the demands on schools would be unnecessarily increased .
“I urge you to maintain quiet neighborhoods and top schools as your overall goal,” said Horn. “You’re creating something that puts a strain on the community.”
Horn’s testimony was followed by Adam and Jennifer Hannock, who signed up for the updated plan and for more affordable housing.
Discussion of the master plan continued as Mark Roffers presented another series of updates and pertinent items around the plan, an overview of the rationale for community planning, an overview of the Wisconsin Comprehensive Planning Law, and elements of a plan that village administrators are creating need to be aware of the future, such as the 12,500 population threshold that a “traditional neighborhood” requires that DeForest approaches and which will be detailed as updated census data becomes available later in the year.
Public appearances continued, with Joe Wornson telling the board that his family had moved from Fitchburg to the area after developments there resulted in an unacceptable situation.
“At the time, the schools were good, the community was safe, and it was a good place to live,” Wornson said of DeForest at the time. “That is obviously starting to change. The schools have changed dramatically. “
Wornson was appalled, he told the board when he saw the direction suggested in a presentation by Roffers two weeks earlier, claiming that the community survey response rate of 8% was insufficient, leading to two suggestions.
“You should do the survey again: Use us as citizens who are here,” said Wornson, “the second is to hire someone who is in line with what we want as a community.”
Following his statement, the village council chairman Jane Cahill Wolfgram added two explanations and said the polls were one of several sources of information, including meeting with business owners and feedback from other public gatherings.
“Did enough people take part? Probably not. But I want to emphasize that it is a draft plan, ”said Cahill Wolfgram. “This is not Mark’s brew. We took the data, we took the information, and we have a blueprint to talk to residents about a plan. This is not an attempt to stuff everyone down the throat, but rather to create a plan based on the information we have. “
“If that’s the case, I appreciate it,” said Wornson.
“That is the case,” said Cahill Wolfgram, “and we are far from the end of our comprehensive plan.”
Jonathan Bader, Reach Dane resident and chairman of the board, argued for the urgent need for affordable housing in DeForest and called on board members to make housing a local priority.
“When we look at poverty, it’s a round table where we all have a side,” Bader said, adding that estimates, based largely on public school data, suggest that between 20 and 40 homeless children in DeForest at any one time and many more families spend a disproportionate amount of their total income on rent or mortgage payments.
When asked what he meant by “homeless,” Bader said, “They’re doubled, tripled, they might be in a car, they might camp in Token Creek when it’s warm.”
Trustee William Landgraf asked how the village would pay for such efforts, which Bader readily agreed to make: “I am excited to build something – it is our investment in our community and in each other.” At the same time, a woman shot her up Her seat waited to speak, her hand up from her seat, expressing her willingness to contribute.
As the curators and other participants were exhausted from the extended list of speakers, the meeting took an abrupt turn when Tim Auckermann was greeted at the front table, where he opened: “I have so many questions for you.”
Then he directed a question specifically to Abigail Lowery, asking, “What is a trustee?”
Lowery replied, “A trustee is a member of the village charged with representing the community.”
“I have no sense of representation,” said Auckermann and told the board that he had not met any of them in his seven years in DeForest and that he saw no mechanism for the responsibility of the village board members. “I see you as a group of people passing through.”
When asked who his special representative was, Cahill Wolfgram replied: “We all are. We don’t have any specific districts here. “
Auckermann then proceeded “differently” to ask whether trustees could be removed.
Lowery stated that a trustee could be removed, but only after the first year of his two-year term was up. She went on to answer his earlier questions, pointing to elections as a source of accountability, with greater accountability foreseen in the context of competitive elections. Lowery apologized that by apparent coincidence she had not met Auckermann in her previous campaign and public relations, but offered to address his concerns by phone, email, or in person if that could be planned.
“I’d like to speak to you,” Lowery said. “Your first question was addressed to me and I would like to answer your specific questions about myself.”
“I think a problem for people in Conservancy Place and other parts of DeForest isn’t so much low-income housing or apartment buildings … it’s not good for property value and there was no responsibility for this high-rise building you are building off River Road “Said Auckermann, referring to a four-story residential commercial building that is planned as part of a $ 30 million residential development project.
When he finished, a woman in the audience told him that she also lived at Conservancy Place and that local updates were also available in a weekly e-newsletter that Lowery shares on Facebook.
Two speakers took time that evening to voice their opposition to aspects of a proposed golf complex to be built between Interstate-39/90 and River Road.
The 718,000-square-foot, three-story Pinseeker golf attraction would have three floors of a sheltered (and winter heated) driving range where visitors would shoot south from the building using a digital ball tracking system that plan out loud, younger ones and would attract new golfers with multiplayer game options.
In a presentation of the plan, potential co-owners, father and son Bill and Ryan Ranguette, stated that when completed, the complex would also include outdoor mini golf, a restaurant, bar and a rooftop set up as a music venue.
The former trustee of the village council and president of Degnan Design called the meeting via Zoom to express his disagreement with the development plans in the Conservancy Park in general, and particularly with the prospect of a tax increase funding from the village for the construction of the Pinseeker complex bring.
Dawn Clemens testified emotionally against the project, saying it looked fun but that she was concerned about online files regarding the ranguettes in the Wisconsin Online Circuit Court Database (CCAP) that included previous foreclosures.
“Where does this emotion come from?” asked trustee Jim Simpson.
“My concern is whether our hard-earned money will benefit someone who doesn’t deserve it,” said Clemens.
DeForest Village Administrator and Finance Director Steve Fahlgren reached out to address the financial concerns outlined by saying that the long-term tax revenue created by the value of the development was inherently the hypothetical lost revenue from the TIF benefit period.
When the Ranguettes presented the project proposal late in the meeting, Bill Ranguette brought up the evidence of legal concerns. Ranguette stated that the aforementioned cases were related to the 2008 financial crisis and were the result of a single issue where a disagreement on one project resulted in everyone else, including assisted living facilities, pending a decision on that one Case were frozen.
Part of the reason the Ranguettes looked to “partner” with the village, said Bill Ranguette, was because the project cost was $ 10 million, and since this was a new business, they needed 35% equity to get started.
Lowery asked if this was the first project of its kind they had tackled, to which professional golfer Ryan Ranguette replied, “It would be the first for something like this.”
As the presentation turned into an open discussion between trustees and the ranguettes, Simpson commented that he had reached out to some people who might be eligible in the target market with an answer: “It’s time we got a decent one Have driving range in the east ”. Page.”
Trustee Taysheedra Allen requested “a pause to address concerns that have arisen.”
Fahlgren followed up with a question for the Ranguettes about the end results of their previous projects, which Bill Ranguette said, to the best of his knowledge, were all still up and running, particularly pointing to the Northern Bay Resort in Arkdale, Adams County as a successful golf development.
After the presentation and discussion, the board proceeded with actions that should be taken in one direction or another in the future.
The session turned into a closed session to discuss the likely use of the TIF benefits in the Pinseekers project, returned to the open session with no new decisions and was then adjourned at around 11pm.