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City may reduce acreage requirement for planned residential developments

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City may reduce acreage requirement for planned residential developments
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The city of Hudson is considering changing a requirement that planned residential developments be at least 10 acres in size.

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for 6:55 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, at City Hall, 505 Third St. It will take place prior to the regular City Council meeting, which was rescheduled to Wednesday night in order to allow the council chamber to be set up as a polling place for the April 6 election.

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The City Council scheduled the public hearing at its March 15 meeting, following a brief discussion of the merits of amending the zoning code to allow the smaller planned developments.

Community Development Director Dennis Darnold said that he considers the 10-acre requirement to be arbitrary.

Some parcels of less than 10 acres might be equally suited for planned residential developments, Darnold said.

The classification allows developers to deviate from rules on housing density, layout and building types - provided that the changes are approved by the City Council. The developers are required to set aside a certain amount of commonly owned open space for each dwelling unit.

The amount of open space required per unit varies from 400 square feet per dwelling unit in a PRD-3 district to 1,500 square feet in a PRD-1 district.

According to the City Code, the acceptable reasons for approving a planned residential development are: (1) to encourage the provision of open space and recreational facilities, (2) to encourage creativity in the development of residential areas, (3) to preserve existing topography, stands of trees, ponds and similar natural assets, (4) to encourage a variety of living environments and an agreeable mixture of housing types, and (5) to permit a degree of flexibility in environmental design.

Darnold said some people assume that the only reason the city is considering allowing smaller planned residential developments is to accommodate the owner of the old Hudson Medical Center site. He added that that isn't the case.

Darnold said there are two other parcels of less than 10 acres in the city, and one just outside of it, that are well suited for planned developments.

Former Hudson Mayor Tom Redner, who lives three blocks away from the old hospital, said single-family residential (R-1) is the appropriate zoning for the property.

District 4 Alderman James Mayer noted that a planned residential development would allow greater housing density on the former hospital property than the current zoning.

Mayer said the question he asks whenever there is a request to rezone property is whether the result will be a net benefit for the people of Hudson.

Earlier this year, Sieco Construction Inc. of Minneapolis bought the 6.82-acre hospital site at the west end of Wisconsin Street from David Bourdeau of Hudson. Bourdeau purchased the property last year from Hudson Hospital.

Sieco Construction President Jeff Siewert at a Feb. 5 meeting of the Hudson Plan Commission unveiled a proposal for a 66-unit condominium building on the site.

The company also proposes to build twin-homes on the lower and upper parking lots on the property, east of Blakeman Boulevard.

The condominium building would stand roughly where the medical center was. Demolition of the old medical center began last week.

Sieco Construction's initial proposal was for a four-level condominium building that would provide views of the St. Croix River valley from the upper floors.

Siewert said he would ask the city to:

  • Rezone the property from single-family residential to multiple-family residential;

  • Allow greater housing density than is currently permitted multiple-family districts; and

  • Waive the 35-foot height restriction on buildings.

    Darnold said the developer's initial proposal was a 51-foot-tall building.

    Siewert and Bourdeau said they were prepared to work with the city to come up with an acceptable plan, however. Bourdeau is serving as a consultant to Siewert on the project.

    The developers have since met with neighbors of the proposed development to hear their comments about it.

    Randy Hanson can be reached at rhanson@rivertowns.net.

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    Randy Hanson
    Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
    (715) 426-1066
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