Much can be learned from looking at previously approved developments. We already know that the County 2035 Master Plan and the Walworth County website encourage development that has full access to city water and sewer, is walkable to town centers, walkable to school, and generally in place with the density surrounding it. These criteria alone dictate the dismissal of Kane County Shodeen’s development proposal on North Walworth Road, but let’s look at the precedent that Walworth County has already set.
By now we know that the municipalities and the county have made egregious errors in their haphazard zoning approvals, and we know this because we can see the results of their actions. Empty subdivisions, roads to no-where, constant pressure on the existing housing supply and stifled home values (you’ll be given a terrific example of this tomorrow). These are the hallmarks of their mistakes. But we can also see a pattern in most of the development approvals, and in that pattern lies the precedent. Consider the following development snapshots.
City of Lake Geneva, two images. Showing some of the larger developments approved in the last 15 years (note the empty lots that prove there is no demand, and no need to destroy more farm land):
Above, Lake Geneva Golf Hills (we haven’t discussed or counted this one yet), and Pollard’s coming Southland Farms/Symphony development (551 units). Below, Stone Ridge (note the empty lots). What do you notice when looking at these development images? Note where the city center is (shopping, schools), and note adjacent densities. The densities surrounding are all densities owned by the municipality in control of the lands.
Below, an aerial of Fontana and a portion of the town of Walworth. Note the location of the Cliffs (we haven’t counted it yet), and the Highlands of Fontana (100+ all empty), and Whitetail Ridge. See where the municipal center is relative to the development? See how the path for development moves from the denser, city center and outward? Notice how it’s not the other way around?
Below, Delavan and the general location of the never-started Green Isle project. Note the city location, the density, the access to primary roadways.
Below is the West side of Delavan. Glen Oaks, adjacent Whispering Pines. Ellis Farms, adjacent Whispering Pines. Both less than a half mile to school, both near city center, both near state highways. Both developments wishing for buyers.
Below is Elkhorn and its giant south side mistake. Re-zoned, approved, ready to develop. 693 total units in Elk Creek Alone. Note the location of Elkhorn’s downtown, the locate of state roadways, the adjacent density. These developments might be gross mistakes, but both make sense relative to their location.
Below, the Northeast side of Elkhorn, Harvest Point and Fair Meadows. Note the location of the school (south), the proximity to state roads, the adjacent density and the nearby town center. This is how responsible development happens.
Closer to home, below is Walworth. Note Windmill Prairie. Vacant and neglected, sure, but look at how smart the location is. Adjacent to density, near the school, walkable to all of Walworth. Library Square and (LSN), both with handfuls of vacant lots, but both in the right location. In-fill subdivisions make the best use of a municipality’s land because they use up land not well suited for other purposes (like farming). The Pines of Big Foot isn’t something I like, but the 180 housing units are adjacent similar density, have both city water and sewer, and are close to town and school. The development makes complete sense.
And finally, below is the development location on North Walworth Road in Walworth Township. In case you can’t differentiate the 123+ unit development proposal from the mass of farm land in the image, I labeled it for you. A-2 Farm Field. As a reminder, the Walworth County Zoning Ordinance reads as follows:
A-2 Agricultural Land District. The primary purchase of this district is to maintain, preserve, and enhance agricultural lands historically utilized for crop production.
Let’s not be the township that sets a precedent for misplaced development. Let’s respect our town density, respect our town values, and respect the will of the people. Tell Shodeen No. Tell him next time he wants to develop land he should buy land in a location that wants to be developed. Remember, developer ownership of land has nothing to do with the suitability of that land for development.
Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.