Development of New Berlin farmland awaits landowners' consensus on road

March 1, 2017 – 09:01 pm

Proposed changes for business expansion are within a yellow border.New Berlin — Progress toward a development plan for section 35, the largest remaining tract of farmland in New Berlin east of Moorland Road, is halted awaiting landowners' agreement on where the main road into the tract should be.

That's important especially to farmers. They would like the opportunity to sell their entire farms to potential developers, rather than piecemeal if the road goes through rather than around their farms. If they sell off only part of their farms, they may not be able to continue farming.

So, some want the east-west road to be farther south, along property lines. The road would connect Moorland Road to the planned industrial area to the east.

Section 35 is roughly between Moorland and Sunnyslope roads and between College and Grange avenues.

Consensus needed

The city met with the landowners and has decided to wait for them to come to a consensus before going to a public hearing on the proposed development plan and the zoning needed to back it up. So, the July 29 public hearing has been tabled.

Still, Mayor Dave Ament is hopeful that the development plan can be approved by the end of the year.

If the landowners favor the more southerly route, the city will need a consultant to do preliminary engineering to determine how much more that would cost, Ament said. If it would cost a lot more, the proposal might go back to the Plan Commission, he said.

Once a proposal is nailed down, a public hearing will again be scheduled, he said.

Sports complex new

The final plan will need Common Council approval. If the sports complex is still in the approved final plan, the city will look into acquiring land for it, Ament said.

Already, city officials are working with those who live across Sunnyslope Road about minimizing the impact of a sports complex, he said.

"Lighting is probably the biggest thing, " followed by the additional traffic a sports complex would attract, he said. But those problems will come to some extent anyway, regardless of the proposed sports complex, he said.

"It's going to develop either way, at some point, " Ament said.

The proposed sports complex was added to the potential development plan mainly because area residents said they didn't want industrial park traffic to flow from Moorland to Sunnyslope Road, he said. So, city planners began to look for some way to plug the terminus of the east-west road before it reached Sunnyslope. The repeated calls for more ball diamonds and athletic facilities by the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission seemed to fill the bill, Ament said.

Other changes

In addition to the proposed sports complex, the new proposed plan includes two other significant changes from the current plan. One is increasing the proposed density to two homes per acre. The current density is one home for every two acres. Those already living along Sunnyslope said they wanted compatible densities and even the new density would be less than currently along Sunnyslope, said Greg Kessler, community development director.

The second proposed change is reducing somewhat the area for homes, due to the difficulty of getting to the area over a floodplain. The only other way to get to it would be through the business park, which is not desirable, Kessler said. So, the area that was to be residential would be business park.


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