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Student housing project revived in Whitewater

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Kevin Hoffman
June 22, 2011
— A proposed student housing complex near UW-Whitewater has resurfaced, six months after the city’s planning commission stalled the project by rejecting a zoning change.

Planners for “The Element” resubmitted their proposal, modifying various aspects of the design to win approval from the public and city officials. The planning commission voted down the previous plan after it refused to approve residential zoning changes.


Several landlords during a public hearing in December spoke out against the complex, arguing the plan wouldn’t work. One of their gripes was a plan to serve 108 students with 81 parking stalls.


City Manager Kevin Brunner said Tuesday the latest submission complies with current zoning standards. The planning commission June 13 unanimously approved site and building plans for an 18-unit, 69-room building at the corner of Prince and Florence streets.


That’s considerably smaller than the 88-unit proposal reviewed by the commission nearly a year ago. The project was scaled down due to density and parking issues, Brunner said.


Plans last year indicated the building would be similar to on-campus dormitories, with furnished apartments, common areas and resident managers. It’s unclear if the new project will take the same track.


Matthew Burow, one of the project’s leaders, said last year he planned to return to the city with a new proposal once he was able to reevaluate the standards. He said one of the keys to garnering support in Whitewater was to educate resident about the project and its intentions.


Burow said the purpose of the complex was to serve as transitional housing between dormitories and private rentals.


Brunner said he hopes to have a development agreement in place within the next 10 days. The project would then need to come back before the council for review.


Also during Tuesday’s meeting:


-- Parks and Recreation Director Matt Amundson said organizers for Treyton Kilar’s Field of Dreams will take another try at winning a $50,000 Pepsi Refresh grant.


They narrowly missed out on a $250,000 grant earlier this year to help build a youth baseball field in Kilar’s name. The six-year-old was killed in September when Scott Dragotta of East Troy ran a stop sign at Highway 20 and County N in Walworth County, hitting a vehicle driven by Kilar’s father, Mike.


Amundson said he expects to learn by July 1 if the Kilar proposal will be included in the latest Pepsi competition, which will run all that month. Organizers are trying to raise $474,000 for the field, which would include concession stands, restrooms and lighting.


-- The city council approved 4-1 a citywide ban on synthetic marijuana. A similar law was passed earlier this month by the state Legislature.


Councilman Javonni Butler was the only alderman to oppose the measure, recommending it be tabled in light of the state’s action. First offenders of the city ordinance can be fined up to $400 for possession and up to $700 for delivery.


The ban isn’t enforceable at UW-Whitewater, campus Police Chief Matt Kiederlen has said.



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