Pine Shores owners prevail at Boscobel Plan Commission hearing

BOSCOBEL — In a busy and sometimes tense public hearing this week, landlords lined up to voice their opposition to the city’s plans for Boscobel’s Pine Shores Estates housing development. Mayor Brenda Kalish had to recall the planning commission hearing twice when tempers flared and arguments broke out.

The issue is about an acre of mature pines growing on 7 lots and obscuring existing J&J Salvage and Recycling homes. The city proposes to purchase and rezone the lots for multi-family dwellings and replace the trees with a berm and dirt wall. Currently the lots are zoned for single family homes.

Neighbors opposed both proposals to the planning commission, although the meeting was narrowly focused on the issue of rezoning. The planning commission has been tasked with making a recommendation on this matter to the city council, which has the ultimate power to decide on zoning matters. Council will address the issue of lot rezoning on May 16 at 7 p.m.

“I built knowing that everything is R1 residential,” the designation for single-family homes, said Tim Beinborn, who lives in the development. “Now suddenly you change the rules halfway through the game. It is not fair. It’s dirty, “

“What did you think was going to happen?” retorted John Schimpach, owner of the lots in question, during his testimony. “Every day of your life you’ve driven right by that ‘For Sale’ sign. I’ve spent a lot of money on sewer, water, electric and gas. All readings. J had to remortgage my farm. I already paid a farm twice to make it work. Now you want me to throw it all away?

Paul Beck is a landowner in the Pine Shores development who addressed the planning commission on May 9.

Traffic, noise and horror

Through a dozen public comments and numerous discussions, several common themes emerged. The negative impact of higher density housing, particularly rental properties, was a major concern. These concerns included increased traffic on the Pine Circle Loop and loss of neighborhood tranquility.

“It’s a beautiful, quiet, wild neighborhood,” said Patricia Smith. “There is wildlife everywhere. It’s just such a paradise. Traffic and parking, she added, would create a safety hazard for pedestrians and emergency vehicles.

Adding to residents’ trepidation is the uncertainty of what type of housing would be built. The city’s mandate is to provide affordable housing for workers, but development specific to Pine Shores could be, say, senior housing that would free up housing for workers elsewhere in the city, the city administrator explained. Misty Molzoff.

“I would like to know why what is proposed to be done there cannot be more definitive,” said Janet Beck. “We have no idea what’s going to happen there except you want to chop down all the trees. We don’t know if it’s multi-family. We don’t know if it’s rental. Is- this just for the people who own two-thirds of the property there now?”

Many who commented expressed skepticism about the city’s plan to build a berm and earthen wall to protect salvage yard housing. Building anything over six feet would require a city code waiver.

Joe Napp, co-owner of J&J Salvage, said he and his brother worked cleaning up the yard during the two years they owned it. “But whatever we do, it’s going to look like hell. It’s a dump,” he said. “I’d like to know what berm will keep everyone from looking out their second-story window into our junkyard and saying, ‘God, that looks really nice. “”

The movement fails

After more than an hour of public comment, Mike Reynolds, Boscobel City Engineer and Director of Public Works, presented a motion to recommend rezoning the lots. “I understand all these concerns,” said Reynolds, “but I think as a member of the planning commission I have to do what is best for the town of Boscobel and I have no doubt that what is the best for the town of Boscobel is to try to develop additional housing.

Other commissioners were more skeptical. “The first time I knew what was going on was when I took The Dial,” commissioner Dean Beinborn said. “Developing this area is something that should be done. Mr. Schimpach should not be sitting on these grounds. Somewhere there has to be a middle ground. But just to raise your hand and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, I don’t have enough information.

After further discussion, the vote is called. Reynolds, Alderman Krissy Schneider and Commissioner Kelly Randall-Dempsey voted in favor of the rezoning recommendation. Commissioners Beinborn, Pat Roseliep, Karl Krogen and Mayor Kalish voted against.

The question of the rezoning of the lots will come back again before the municipal council at the next meeting, just without the recommendation of the planning commission. Additionally, the city’s purchase agreement with Shimpach was dependent on rezoning and will need to be renegotiated.

Middle ground

Despite the conflict, agreements have emerged between the commission and the neighbors concerned. At Janet Beck’s suggestion, the commission has agreed to appoint residents to the steering committee that will ultimately decide what type of development to build on the seven lots.

“I think that’s fair,” Reynolds said. “They should have a say.”

And near the end of the meeting, Joe Napp expressed his willingness to work with the city on the structure separating his business from the residential neighborhood.

“If we work together, we can really do some good there,” Reynolds said.

The communication tower advances

Grant County got the go-ahead from the Boscobel Planning Commission to build a 255-foot communications tower on the outskirts of town on State Route 133. The tower is one of 11 the county connects to a fiber optic loop to improve emergency communications. The tower would also potentially house an internet service provider, according to county officials.

In other cases, the planning commission has approved motions to:

• Sell land in the industrial park for a car detailing business.

• Authorize a zoning deviation for Doug and Cindy Knoble to build an addition.

• Outsource some of the zoning tasks, including code updates, to General Engineering.

•Reconvene the City Master Plan Steering Committee to ensure it continues to guide City decisions.

Aurora J. William