City Council Votes To Annex Land For Pleasant View Ridge Development

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Matt Geiger
Supporters of the Pleasant View Ridge subdivision proposal say a working farm, located on the land pictured above, would help make the development environmentally sustainable. Critics say building on the land could endanger the health of the nationally c

The Middleton Common Council held a special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 11, voting to proceed with an annexation that is key to moving forward with the 164-acre Pleasant View Ridge subdivision development.

While the council voted 6-2 in favor of bringing the land, which had been located in the neighboring Town of Middleton, into the city, critics of the project used the opportunity to reiterate concerns about the project’s environmental impact.

Ald. Hans Hilbert (Dist. 7) said he hadn’t seen any scientific evidence that would mitigate his concerns that the subdivision’s septic systems could harm the Black Earth Creek and the hydric soils around it. He also said the promise of additional tax revenue is not enough to push forward with a project situated on pristine rural land.

“It would be much easier if we made our land use decisions based on finances,” he said, adding that development’s impact on the ecosystem must also be taken into account.

“Everything we do is going to have an effect [on the area’s water quality],” he said.

Ald. Miriam Share (Dist. 1) pointed to a growing chorus of concerned citizens when voting against the project.

Citing letters from constituents as well as the environmental watchdog groups CRANES and Sierra Club, Share said septic tanks “are not innocent household appliances.” Studies have show that residential homeowners dispose of toxic chemicals, including various household cleaners and poisons, at an alarming rate, she pointed out.

The actual failure rate of septic systems, as opposed to urban sewage setups, was a point of dispute.

But several alders who voted for the annexation said their position is not necessarily a stalwart endorsement of the development as a whole, which would still require an array of city approvals in order to break ground.

“We are simply annexing the property … you can’t just close the door,” said ald. Gurdip Brar (Dist. 2). He said the council would carefully consider the project’s environmental consequences before considering a final stamp of legislative approval. “That’s what we will address as we go forward,” he said.

Mayor Kurt Sonnentag agreed. “Nothing is approved at this point,” he stated. “Not a thing.”

Ald. Jim Wexler (Dist. 4) said the “implication” city leaders might approve “leaky septic systems” was incorrect.  “How many times do we have to say the city would not accept that, and the county would not accept that.”

Wexler, who in the spring expressed enthusiasm for the development, reiterated his support. Wexler said he has the utmost trust in landowner and developer, Erdman Holdings, Inc.

“We have pretty stringent water quality standards here in the city,” said city planning director Eileen Kelley. “[The] water resources [commission], plan commission and [city] council may all say we need to go further, that we instead of just no harm we might need to actually improve the water quality.”

“The homework hasn’t been done,” Share countered. “[Citizens] want this information brought forward sooner rather than later.”

“That’s not unusual,” answered Sonnentag. 

The developer wants to transform land between U.S. Highway 14 and Pleasant View Golf Course, as well as a slice of the golf course itself, into an assortment of residential neighborhoods situated around a working farm.

At full build-out the Pleasant View Ridge subdivision would include 104 units and generate an estimated $190,000 annually in new tax revenue for the City of Middleton. Figures showing the exact cost of the increased demand on city services are not yet available.

 

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