Dave Reid

East Side Apartment Proposal Held by Committee

By - Nov 21st, 2008 03:32 pm
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Kenilworth and Farwell

Kenilworth and Farwell

New Land Enterprises was before the committee requesting a change in zoning to construct a 5-story apartment building to be located on North Farwell Avenue and East Kenilworth.  Although the current zoning would allow for 33 units New Land Enterprises intends for 91 units to be constructed.  Individual units would range in size from 560 square feet to 850 square feet and would include one parking spot.  It was generally accepted by the committee that this plan for higher density with smaller units would in fact be better for the neighborhood.

New Land Enterprises’ has held three meetings with local stakeholders, including the East Side BID, and faced no opposition at the City Plan Commission.  Jim Plaisted, East Side BID Executive Director, lent his support to the project stating “we feel this is a quality infill development.”

Despite those efforts and overwhelming support by the committee, Alderman Nik Kovac made an unusual move and asked for the file to be held for one cycle.  He stated, “I would like the general residents of the 3rd District to have a chance to see this plan,” and added  that “it’s going to be the policy of the 3rd District going forward” to have public meetings for all development projects.  New Land Enterprises agreed to an “informational meeting” to be held but requested no changes be made to the design due this additional meeting as that would delay the project significantly.  Responding to Alderman Kovac’s request to hold the file, Alderman Jim Witkowiak seemed exasperated as multiple times during the discussion he said “again with all due to respect, I don’t get it.”  Alderman Bob Bauman added that “I don’t want to screw up the financing,” and Alderman Michael Murphy followed up saying that “the worst thing is to have a meeting, and to already know the conclusion of the meeting.”

The committee held the file allowing Alderman Kovac to hold the “informational meeting,” but they clearly indicated that it will be moved forward at the next committee meeting.  Specifically, Alderman Tony Zielinski ended the discussion by stating “when this comes before the committee next cycle we are approving it.”

Categories: Development News

13 thoughts on “East Side Apartment Proposal Held by Committee”

  1. Is there a danger that community would ask for less density.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    Yea there is, which is unfortunate but they have fought development in that part of town.

  3. Silver says:

    This was the most ridiculous display I’ve seen from the junior alderman yet. It was obvious his colleagues were laughing at him (you could both see and hear them on the video of the meeting) and his strange request. I can think of no other reason for him to do this other than his intense, irrational hatred for New Land Development (his parents have filed lawsuits against the developer for the Downer project near their home). Oddly, the developer Gokman seemed to have bought into this deal to hold it for three weeks.

    For someone who ran against the straw man of “done deals,” Nick certainly dug himself in deep in this one. Basically he promised his support for the project yet argued for the appearance of transparency by wanting to hold the vote over until after an “informational meeting” which he also said wouldn’t change his mind on his support of the project!

    This project is the definition of a done deal, as it should be since, all the near neighbors and relevant stakeholders have bought into it already and the meeting would only serve to rile up people who like to get riled up about development even when they live miles away from it.

    The committee should have refused to let him save face and had the balls to pass it. If nothing is going to change, why should he mention in the meeting announcement that it hadn’t been voted on? They should have passed it and held the informational meeting afterwards.

    Could anything be more bizarre?

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Silver Oh I totally agree. The committee tried pretty hard to tell him this wasn’t a good idea but he pushed on. So then I think the response was ok fine go get yourself in trouble. Hopefully it won’t get messed up as in this economic climate just about nothing is getting built.

  5. Adam says:

    That was, indeed, an odd move on Kovak’s part. I like the idea of a public informational meeting, as, even though I don’t live in immediate proximity to the site, I’d have an excellent view of the building’s rooftop from my window and I frequent the area around the building site, so I do have some questions on it. A public meeting isn’t going to do much good, though, if the project is a done deal anyhow. I also don’t think I’ve seen mentioned anywhere when they want to begin construction.

    I do appreciate Kovak’s efforts towards transparency, though, too, so I don’t think he should be disparaged because of this, but encouraged to focus on increasing transparency where it does more good. I feel the public meetings about the new UWM dorm were a good example of this.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @adam NLE intends on breaking ground in March of 2009. As far as Alderman Kovac, I generally think he’s a good guy, but understand all of these extra meetings add cost and risk to development projects. Further this project in particular had been noticed under the current law, NLE had held three meetings with the local BID, was covered in the press, and had held a public meeting at the City Plan Commission. After all of that it was supported by the committee, DCD, the local BID, and CPC.

    And I’ll say that transparency is a good thing, as I’m actually working on a project that will bring much more transparency to Milwaukee government, but there must be a balance between input and moving Milwaukee forward. Density is good, building to the lots line is good, first floor retail is good, getting rid of surface parking lots is good and this project accomplishes all of these things so it should of moved forward.

  7. Sura says:

    D’Amato had meetings all the time prior to CPC meetings. Do you expect less from Kovac?

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @Sura This meeting is coming AFTER CPC, and Alderman Kovac specifically said that this meeting would just be “informational” and that no changes would be made. So why hold the file? If it is truly just informational they could approve and hold it right?

  9. Dave Reid says:

    @Sura Further if you don’t think this move was strange watch the video of the ZND meeting and watch the committee members reactions.

  10. Sura says:

    I agree this should have been held prior to the CPC meeting. He’s a freshman alderman of the busiest district of the city. Better that he make small, logistical mistakes in attempting to bring transparency and representation to his constituents than make bigger mistakes overlooking the concerns of those who elected him.

  11. Dave Reid says:

    @Sura The meeting won’t address any concerns because the agreement was for an “informational” meeting i.e. “no changes”. So if people come to this meeting with concerns he’ll have to say sorry we can’t change anything and that will hurt him more which is what Alderman Murphy tried to tell him. And so if there are as he said going to be “no changes” what is the point of holding the file?

  12. Sura says:

    One would hope that if serious concerns came up that our city process is flexible enough to handle it. If it’s not, then it’s broken (which I’m already pretty sure of). ;-)

    But seriously, is our system there to serve us? or are we trapped by and serving it?

  13. Dave Reid says:

    I feel confident in saying that Alderman Kovac won’t attempt to bring any changes forward after this meeting but I take it you think that despite being on record as saying that this would be an “informational” meeting that won”t bring changes forward, it would be ok to renig on that commitment?

    That to me seems like a worse breakdown in process than currently in place.

    I’m curious though what do you think is so broken with the process?

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