Plan Commission Approves Twin Sunset Duplexes Despite Neighbor Opposition

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By: 
Cameron Bren

MIDDLETON–The City of Middleton Plan Commission approved a recommendation to the Common Council to rezone a property across from the Hidden Oaks neighborhood at 7103 Twin Sunset Rd. from R1 single family residential to a planned development district (PDD) for a proposal calling for two duplex buildings on the site.

Neighboring residents in single family homes have been outspoken in their opposition to the proposal for various reasons related to the density and scale of the project. The lot which the duplexes would be built on is roughly the size of the adjacent lots which have single family homes.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Mark Opitz said the property owner Koteshwar Katukam revised the plan orienting the garages of the connected units on opposite sides of the building so that it appears as a single family home from either side.

Opitz said the challenge to the proposal will be that water and sewer utilities must be extended to serve the northern lot. Another challenge with the revised proposal is that two driveways connect to the Town of Middleton and Katukam will need consent from the town. The town does not support the proposal and sent a letter to the city requesting it deny the rezoning. 

Opitz noted there are aspects of the storm water management plan which would need to be resolved.

Plan Commission member Kurt Paulsen asked if the town denies driveways, would the applicant be able to have one driveway off Evergreen Road that would serve all four units. Optiz said he presumes the neighbor to the west would not be supportive of a driveway running along their property.

Paulsen asked why a main water line would need to be installed for the northern building. Opitz said the city requires that each unit have separate sewer and water laterals. Water laterals must connect directly to mains and cannot extend across separately owned parcels.

Katukam said the estimated cost from Public Works is close to $100,000.

Paulsen suggested that is something the city should look into because it is cost prohibitive in developing duplexes.

Plan Commission member John Schaffer said he did not understand why the city would move forward with a rezoning if the project is not supported by the neighbors.

“I just want it on record that I think this is really a bad idea and we are spending a lot of time spinning wheels for something I think is a mistake,” Schaffer said.

Plan Commission member Randy Bruce said when he visited the site he came to a different conclusion.

“This is the exact kind of place that the city is looking for to do a little bit of infill,” Bruce said. “If we want to preserve our agricultural lands and stop the spread of sprawl, then we’re going to have to be sensitive and look at infill sites such as this.”

Bruce noted the density of the project is similar to the housing in Hidden Oaks subdivision across Evergreen Road. 

He said he agrees the cost of utility mains is a burden for the developer and would like to inquire with public works to have the mains in a public easement.

Bruce said there are substantial trees on the site and would like them surveyed and a plan for preserving them. He said he would also like the design to look as residential as possible to fit in with the neighborhood.

Paulsen made a motion to determine that the proposed building plan is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan and to recommend that council rezone the property to a planned development district with the contingencies the applicant get approval for driveway access or change the design, meet remaining stormwater control standards and install utility mains for the northern building.

Neighboring resident Melissa Dahman interrupted the plan commission Zoom meeting as it was about to vote on Paulsen’s motion. 

Mayor Gurdip Brar informed Dahman it was not a public hearing. 

Dahman continued speaking saying that none of the neighbors nor the Middleton Town Board support the proposal. 

Dahman alleged Katukam’s proposal is motivated by greed. “He’s going to laugh all the way to the bank and we’re goingto be the ones to suffer,” Dahman “That is not right, that is not affordable housing.”

Opitz informed all those participating in the Zoom meeting that the Plan Commission’s recommendation will next go before the Common Council for a vote where the public can speak during the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting.

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