EL plan needs to be handled carefully, successfully

OFFICIALS IN ELKHART LAKE are in the early stages of the approval process for a major residential addition to the city.

Though the development of the Victory Elkhart LLC property on the village’s northeast side is still in its formative, early concept stages, it is already drawing its fair share – and more – of scrutiny and concern from future neighbors.

The only step the developers are looking to take at the moment is a 48-unit apartment building that would go on the western edge of their property, just to the east of the commercial district along North Lincoln Street.

A rough concept plan presented to the Village Board and Planning Commission shows a number of duplexes surrounding the apartment building on the remainder of the property, serving as a buffer to the single-family residential areas to the east. It also shows a new through street connecting Maple Street to Moraine Drive through the heart of the new development.

The board gave tentative approval to rezoning for the apartment building only, with a number of conditions – such as a two-year time limit to begin construction and approval of the final building plan, among others – and a number of questions still to be answered, such as financing infrastructure needs for the development and if that can be done successfully through the existing tax incremental finance district.

The village is right to follow a cautious path on this plan and they can be certain that future neighbors of this development will be paying close attention and following its progress.

But the bottom line remains that housing is a need in the village of Elkhart Lake and the county as a whole.

At issue:
Multi-family development
Bottom line:
Needed, needs to be done right

That message was delivered to the Sheboygan

Falls Plan Commission last month by Sheboygan

County Economic Development Corp. Director

Dane Checolinski.

A study by the SCEDC showed there has not been a new apartment building opened in the county in more than several years – and that is impacting employee recruitment and job growth in the county.

“(C)ompanies … were saying that they had potential employees from outside the area that were turning down jobs because they could not find a place to live,” Checolinski told the Falls group.

He added that six of the largest employers in the county have plans to add more than 300 jobs in the next two years – some of which will be filled by people from outside the county looking for a place to live.

The proposed multi-family development in Elkhart Lake has received the endorsement of local resorts there, who attested that they need housing for their employees in order to grow and prosper.

It also was endorsed by school district officials, who see the opportunity to grow the district’s student population and spread the tax burden of financing the school district.

The need is there for multi-family housing in Elkhart Lake. The need is also there to make sure any new project is doable from an economic and infrastructure standpoint, while also being sensitive to the needs and wishes of neighbors as much as possible.

Bringing all that together will be a daunting challenge, but village officials and Victory Elkhart should be able to make it work, given time and patience.

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