Marshall board, planning commission approve apartment complex

July 9, 2019

Cathy Kozlowicz

The Courier

After Marshall residents signed petitions, neighbors voiced concerns at government meetings, a failed planning commission vote and resubmission requests, the plan commissioners and village board officials approved a proposal for a four-unit apartment building at consecutive meetings Monday, July 8.

The planning commissions debated the proposal for nearly an hour and the village board officials immediately approved the request.

The proposed apartment will be located at 6116 State Highway 73, about parallel to the other four-unit structure that is already operational. The village officials granted a conditional use permit (CUP) stating if the property owners run across an old septic tank, it needs to be removed; there will be no more residential buildings on that property; the parking lot will be adjusted to include four more stalls; and that there will be privacy borders on the south and east side.

“I don’t want them to come back with a third building,” said planning commissioner Sue Peck.

Since the proposal was first denied at the Feb. 26 planning commission meeting, the property owners, Mark Montanio and his son, Shawn Montanio, resubmitted a plan where the setback requirements were within the village ordinance.

Village Administrator Adam Ruechel confirmed at Monday’s planning commission meeting that the CUP met the setback requirements of a multi-family residential zoning district. Property owners both said that the building is 19 to 20 feet off of each of the property lines. Shawn Montanio said they will be removing the silver maple trees in the front as they leave tree debris and other damage and will be replacing it with sugar maples.

“We tried to listen to everyone’s concerns,” Shawn Montanio said. He also said that the neighboring property owner in the back had concerns with his pine trees being removed.

“Those will be left as is,” Shawn Montanio said.

The planning commission and the board denied the planned use development (PUD) for this complex at its April 16 meeting. The board asked the owners to come with another plan where the setback requirements are in direct compliance with the village ordinance and to submit a modified proposal. The complex proposal was tabled at the March 12 village board after being denied at the Feb. 26 planning commission meeting.

At the June 10 special meeting, the property owners submitted the plan as a CUP instead of a PUD. The board voted to table this request so it can go back to the planning commission and the board again.

At all the meetings property owners voiced concerns, yet the board officials had concerns with rejecting a proposal that met all the ordinance requirements.

“I am sympathetic to both sides,” said planning commissioner Bill Blaschka.

Why do a CUP?

Despite the objections and concerns from the neighbors, Ruechel said that property owners have the right to construct a building if they have enough acreage and meeting the zoning requirements. The question the planning commissioners and board officials asked was, why do a CUP?

“Some municipalities are getting rid of the CUP all together,” Ruechel said. If there are additional criteria, it can be put into an ordinance, he added.

According to 2017 Wisconsin 67 Act, municipalities must grant a CUP if the applicant agrees to or meets all of the requirements and conditions specified in the relevant ordinance or imposed by the relevant zoning board.

Ruechel said the language, according to this act, is that municipalities shall approve a request if it meets all the zoning requirements instead of using the word may. He said that this was done to undercut the old language where municipalities can make decisions based on environmental situations and what is the subjectively the best plan for the village.

“We are bound by our own ordinances. It is not, ‘We don’t want it in our neighborhood,” Schuepbach said. “We can’t just say no without backing it up.”

“They own the property,” he added. “Other people coming in (the village) will not see it as an eyesore.”

The planning commissioners voiced concern over the implications of the role of community input on the CUP process.

“This is a unique situation,” Peck said.

“We need to look at this,” Blaschka said. “Otherwise it is a waste of time for everyone – and with a lawsuit and money.”

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