The Whitewater Common Council Tuesday unanimously approved a development agreement with Johnson Creek based Loos Custom Homes in the city’s Park Crest subdivision, which is in the Jefferson County portion of Whitewater.
Officially, the agreement is through Gremar LLC, which does business as Loos Custom Homes, and it will complete Phase 4A of the subdivision.
City manager Cameron Clapper and Public Works director Brad Marquardt presented the agreement to the council, and city attorney Wally McDonell provided answers to some of the legal questions council members asked.
Loos Custom Homes has fully acquired 13 lots in Park Crest, upon which they will build single-family homes. Plans call for construction to begin in August, with a goal to complete them by the end of the year, perhaps as early as October. However, Loos has an option to purchase an additional 20 lots, and, if those lots are indeed purchased for development, those additional homes would be built in 2019.
The Park Crest subdivision is located on the northwest side of the city, along County Highway N. The subdivision was fully platted in 2000, and earlier phases established single-family homes in the area. As Clapper explained, after the housing and economic crash of 2008, the latter phases of the development were placed on hold until the economy was better situated for such developments.
Marquardt noted that no new parkland will be part of this new project because the parkland requirement for the subdivision was met back in 2000 when the area was initially platted.
While the plans for the individual lots are still being finalized, the bulk of the agreement focused on items like schedules for construction, adhering to state and local statutes, utility installation and other infrastructural aspects. An escrow account is being funded by Loos; if there is a worse-case scenario in which they cannot complete the project, the city will utilize those funds to complete the project.
As McDonell explained, the City of Whitewater is not making any financial contributions to this project. All of the infrastructure costs are being covered by Loos. Additionally, he noted that no tax incremental finance district funds, or TIF funds, are being used.
Loos Custom Homes director of land development Cory O’Donnell was present at Tuesday’s meeting, but nearly all of the questions council members asked were aimed at city staff. Once the discussion ended and the council voted to approve the agreement, the council gave O’Donnell and Loos a round of applause for their commitment to the city.
Clapper commented afterwards.
In a press release sent Tuesday immediately after the council meeting by the Greater Whitewater Committee, O’Donnell said “This will be a great project for Loos Custom Homes and Whitewater. Since the taskforce sent us a letter asking to join them I knew we would make something work to develop in this beautiful city.”
In the same press release, council president Patrick Singer is quoted: ““We appreciate the effort the Greater Whitewater Committee put forth to attract single family housing to the Whitewater market, they were very instrumental in bring Loos here. We want to thank Cory and his team for being willing to invest in our community I think they’ll find a lot of demand so hopefully they can get these built quick and filled.”
In other matters, the council:
• Directed city staff to come up with a specific plan that will allocate city-based emails to most, but perhaps not all, of the chairpersons of city boards, committees and commissions. Initially, the board had played with the idea of having all committee members having a city-sponsored email account, but that was cost-prohibitive and complicated by member turn-over.
After discussing the issue, it was decided that committee chairperson should be given email accounts since that would create a record on the city’s system, thus making it easier to locate information if there is a specific open records request made to the city regarding committee discussions or actions.
However, it was noted that not every committee meets on a regular basis. For example, Clapper noted, proudly, that the city’s Ethics Committee has never met since he has been employed by the city. Therefore, city staff will develop the criteria by which committee chairpersons will be allocated email accounts. These will include all that convene on a regular basis, like for example, the Park and Recreation Board and the Landmarks Commission.
• Approved Memoranda of Agreement with several different property owners in the city for easements regarding sewer and stormwater utility installation as part of the Franklin and Ann Streets reconstruction project. The city will pay Araceli Partida $3,350; Home Lumber Company $1,800; DLK Enterprises $2,700; WDSC 460 West Ann Inc $21,15; and MNPL LLC $8,000 for the easements.
However, the council delayed approving the contract for the reconstruction until its June 5 meeting.
• Heard Community Development Authority (CDA) director Dave Carlson give an update on CDA activities over the last year.
• Heard Pat Blackmer, chairperson of the Landmarks Commission, deliver the commission’s annual report to the council, and, in separate but related action, heard Clapper announce the annual proclamations recognizing May as Historical Preservation Month and Wisconsin Archeology Month.
• Re-appointed Jeff Knight to the Technology Park Board as a citizen appointment. He was the only person to apply.
• Tuesday’s meeting marked the last one to be attended by retiring police chief Lisa Otterbacher. A special swearing-in ceremony for incoming police chief Aaron Raap will be held in the Municipal Building on June 1.
• After the regular session, the council convened into closes session to discuss the possible purchase of property located at 261 S. Fourth Street.