Opinion: Campbell Woods Should Be Approved

Opinion: Campbell Woods Should Have Been Approved

On December 21, 2016, the Mount Pleasant Village Planning Commission denied an appropriate rezone request and conditional use grant for a $40 million luxury retirement community to be located on 8.1 acres of land I own after it was recommended not once, but twice, by the Mount Pleasant Community Development Director and Staff.

I started this project by meeting with residents of the Campbell Woods subdivision, which I began developing in 2000 and has become one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Mount Pleasant.

We listened carefully to their concerns.

As a result of the meeting, we made numerous and significant alterations to the original design. We reduced the footprint of the building by almost 50%, decreased the number of units by 40% and we increased the buffer from neighboring properties from 100 feet to 300 feet – with some as much as 600 feet. This would ensure that area homeowners would be able to enjoy an unobstructed view of the woods all year round.

The initial hearing held by the Planning Commission in October resulted in being tabled pending a request for a traffic study by a WisDOT certified Traffic Engineer, a certified appraisal to determine the impact on surrounding property values and to obtain certification that there were no endangered plant species present in Campbell Woods.

The result of those requests were noted best by Mt. Pleasant Community Development Director Samuel Shultz:

”The neighbors have continuously presented concerns to the developer, including the view of the building by the adjacent Campbell Woods subdivision and other properties, the density of the project, project proximity to the property line, increases in traffic, environmental concerns, and concerns regarding the value effect on neighboring homes. The submitted technical reports, as well as the subsequent revisions to the project site plan, have addressed these concerns.”

During the December Planning Commission meeting, I was joined by development architects and business partners. We explained over the course of several hours how this development would result in an economic investment of $40 million, annual property tax revenue of $505,000 and 90 to 110 permanent jobs generating $2.9 million in annual wages, along with 250 construction jobs.

 We also presented Life Care Services’ market studies which showed a retirement community like ours that offers independent living, assisted living and memory care under one roof was needed in this specific location bordering Racine and Kenosha Counties.

Even the consultant for the Campbell Woods Homeowners Association (who oppose our development) was forced to admit to the Planning Commission that an alternative single-family development in place of our “Senior Campus” would have a negative impact on their property values –  prompting Village Trustee, Jon Hansen to say “this is a huge, huge benefit to our community, especially our seniors who really deserve this.”

None of our alterations, studies or surveys made any impression on the other members of the Mount Pleasant Planning Commission who concluded this project was “inconsistent” with the surrounding properties.

This is patently and shockingly incorrect. Mount Pleasant Village Zoning Codes specifically state “Nursing and rest homes for the aged” to be consistent with the residential zoning of this property.

Early in our conversations with homeowners a resident said to us, “we don’t want those old sick people living near us.” That statement haunts me as we have attempted to work through a process which has clearly demonstrated the economic benefit, appropriate location and community need for our “Senior Campus.”

I believe a retirement community which provides the quality “Campbell Woods” has come to represent is a perfect fit for Mount Pleasant – which desperately needs new development and increased tax revenue.

Mt. Pleasant has lost time and again on valuable development opportunities. Niagara Bottling Company’s $56 million investment, ULINE’s $100 million investment and 500 jobs, Amazon’s $170 million investment and 1,000 jobs. The IKEA development went to Oak Creek and WISPARK developed in Caledonia leaving Mt. Pleasant to spend millions to supply their water and sewer by charging the citizens on Highway V. We can do better.

The village has another chance to say “yes” at the Board of Trustees meeting on January 9th. I am hopeful that our Village Trustees will recognize this unique opportunity for our area and vote accordingly.

 

Joe Campbell, President, Managing Member
Senior Campus at Campbell Woods LLC