Reedsburg council approves to rezone South School, intent for developer to turn into housing

Reedsburg council approves to rezone South School, intent for developer to turn into housing

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South Elementary School will be rezoned with the intent of converting the 80-year-old elementary school into multi-family apartments.

The Reedsburg Common Council gave final approval at its meeting Nov. 25 with a 6-1 vote to rezone the property at 420 Plum Street from government to R-3 residentialg, allowing a developer to construct multi-family apartments. Fourth District Alderperson Dave Knudsen voted in opposition. Alderpersons Craig Braunschweig and Jason Schulte were absent.

Reedsburg sets public hearing to rezone South Elementary School for residential housing

City Planner/Building Inspector Brian Duvalle said rezoning the property to R-3 will allow the developer to apply for tax credits for subsidized housing, an application due by Dec. 1. Rezoning South Elementary School passed at a special plan commission meeting last month.

South Elementary School closed in May after serving the school district since 1937. It was replaced by the almost $30 million Prairie Ridge Intermediate School, that opened in September 2019 as a part of the school district’s $32 million referendum passed in 2017. The referendum also set aside money for safe and secure entrances, several maintenance updates and the construction of a new transportation facility at Webb Middle School.

Saying goodbye: Community shares memories of Reedsburg's South Elementary School

Knudsen, whose district is where the elementary school resides, said he wasn’t opposed to rezoning the property to keep the building in Reedsburg for another use, but he expressed concerned of several matters that swayed him to vote against the item. He was concerned about turning the property into a residential lot, especially in a single family neighborhood with government and industrial buildings nearby. He also said the building could have other uses, like business development.

“I think we’re being a little short sided by not having a discussion on what’s the highest and best use for that property when the school district still owns it,” Knudsen said.

He also believed the decision to rezone South Elementary School was “rushed” for a developer to apply for tax credits for subsided housing, especially since one hasn’t come forward yet with a plan for developing the school.

“Something just doesn’t quite feel wide out in the open here,” Knudsen said before voting no on the item.

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The property is still owned by the School District of Reedsburg. District Administrator Tom Benson said in a Nov. 26 phone interview no offers have been made on the building and he didn’t have a timeline for when a buyer could come forward to present an offer.

Amending 2020 budget

The council unanimously approved amending its 2020 budget by $52,000 because an assessed value appealed by Foremost Farms came in after the $6.8 million budget was approved Nov. 11.

Reedsburg OK’s $6.8 million budget, 1.29% tax decrease

The measure will create a $52,000 increase in revenue for the city, moving the general fund slightly from $6.8 to $6.9 million. City Administrator Tim Becker said nothing will change with the tax levy or budget because the city still needs the money to meet the expenditure restraint program. The city’s assessed value with the adjustment is $574,905,900.

Other business

The council approved annexing a 20.16 parcel of land in the town of Winfield to the city for the purposes of an architect graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Madison developing a regional park for a class project.

The location is between the city brush site and County Highway V.

The city approved updates to its zoning ordinance to include parking lot landscaping to help improve aesthetics and control traffic. Parking lots with more than two aisles, 15,000 square feet and two or more rows of parking stalls must have a landscaping plan on the interior. Only newer larger parking lots will have to adhere to the ordinance changes.

The council approved cancelling its Dec. 23 meeting because of Christmas.

Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.

Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.

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