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Mequon considering changes to boost development along Port Washington Road

Aim is to draw adults without kids, families near Port Road

Feb. 28, 2012

Mequon - Property along North Port Washington Road from Highland to Pioneer roads currently is zoned rural residential for the most part but the city is taking a look at changes that would bring more housing to the area as well as commercial development at the major intersections of Port Washington and Highland and Pioneer roads.

The area, identified as the east growth area in city staff's housing policy analysis, is one of three in the city that is being considered as locations for housing that will appeal to adults without children as well as families.

A concept land use map developed by the planning department shows both single family and multiple family housing along the corridor and also along an area of Oriole Lane. The proposal envisions extending the city's sewer service both east and west of Port Washington Road as well as to a small area on the east side of Interstate 43 north of Concordia University. Concordia has sewer service as does St. Mary's Ozaukee Hospital, on the west side of Port Washington Road.

Director of Community Development Kim Tollefson said development along the corridor has been stagnant for the last five years. Only Christ Church and one single family home were built.

"Planning staff questions if this really has rural character," Tollefson said of the strip at the Feb. 21 Common Council meeting.

Adding more dense residential development would bring people to the area to support commercial development at the two previously mentioned intersections. Tollefson said they would be suitable for eateries, small scale retail shops, professional offices or day cares. The Pioneer Road intersection might be suitable for somewhat larger scale commercial development because of its access to Interstate 43, she said.

The land in the area is dotted with wetlands, which would limit growth to a certain degree.

"Some of the properties with a lot of wetlands could lead to a lot of smaller lots being crushed into the area," Alderman Dale Mayr said. "While we all want development at Pioneer Road, we have to remember we have some other critical areas for redevelopment."

Mayr said that developers flock to green areas because it is easier and less expensive to develop them.

Alderman Dan Abendroth suggested forming a committee to study the land use, similar to what was done in the 1990s.

While the housing policy was a topic of discussion only, there seemed to be consensus for Mayor Curt Gielow to form a committee.

Because the area is largely undeveloped, the city would need to consider infrastructure needs, including the potential costs and impacts. Should city officials want to extend sewers, the city would need to bring a proposal to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. The Sewer Utility Commission was scheduled to discuss housing density and its impact at a meeting Feb. 28.

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