A beautiful thing happened at Mequon City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 10. I am not only talking about the 8-0 approval of the Ramaker and Bersch family re-zonings. More importantly, I applaud the council for setting into motion a plan for restoring the pre-2000 zoning for 2.5-acre lots in the neighborhood north of Concordia University. The Planning Commission and Common Council had taken similar action to restore zoning to pre-2000 conditions on parcels in other areas of the city, citing fairness and compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood as the basis of their support. Now fairness is freely offered to all.
Against the opposition of some of the residents in the neighborhood, the council agreed to allow staff to contact the owners of large parcels to investigate their desire to rezone and to propose an alternate process for rezoning. Some neighbors want land owners to individually apply for rezoning on a case-by-case basis. That process includes several meetings per parcel and an application fee of $1,275. Although the neighborhood could not agree on a process; case by case, neighborhood-wide or streamlined, the neighborhood did agree at a recent neighborhood open house at City Hall that restoring the pre-2000 zoning was fair for owners who bought their land prior to the rezoning. Unfortunately, it is unclear what new opportunities might be available for land purchased after 2000.
One alderman recently commented that the process of rezoning has become ugly and contentious, as well as costly. There was support from other aldermen to find a way to avoid subjecting property owners to this process, especially property owners who lost their zoning in 2000. This great idea is another example of fairness.
I personally hope that this re-instatement will not stand in the way of good planning practice where there are opportunities to develop smaller lots in order to offer lower cost housing options in the city.
I applaud this great first step and I hope that it will be fairly offered to all. That is the bright future of Mequon.
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