South side apartment complex gets nod

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – With close scrutiny from potential neighbors as well as the Plan Commission, a 96-unit apartment complex on the city’s south side was approved Thursday.

In front of an overflow crowd, the commission unanimously approved the site plan from Premier Real Estate Management for the eight-building complex at the southwest corner of State 67 and Hill and Dale Road.

But the approval from the more than 50 residents of the nearby South Hills and Greystone subdivisions was far short of unanimous.

“What are they going to look like,” Greystone resident Danielle Jewel asked of the apartments. “It’s about what they look like. They need to blend in with the neighborhood.”

Mayor Donald Pohlman, who chairs the commission, responded that the developers had complied with all of the city ordinances in their proposal, including addressing more than a half-dozen issues and requests raised by city staff. He added that the property had already been rezoned for multifamily, which made the proposal a conforming land use.

Chris Slater, president of development for Premier, noted that the proposal was far less dense than would be allowed under the city’s codes.

For instance, he told the commission and audience, the property could have up to 144 apartments instead of the 96 proposed – twothirds of the maximum allowed density.

“This site has been appropriately zoned for apartments and this meets your zoning code,” Premier attorney Joe Golberg added.

One issue of compromise was the request from city staff for an 8-10 foot berm along the west side of the parcel adjacent to the existing Greystone development.

Director of Public Works Bill Immich said he had discussed the proposed apartments with developers of the Greystone development and that they were hoping for a higher berm.

“We can not do an 8-10 foot berm,” Slater stated. “Because of how wide and large that is, we can not fit in on our site.”

Instead, Premier proposed a five-foot berm with evergreens planted on top of the berm along its entire length.

With the trees along the top of the berm, Slater said, “we believe we can meet the screening needs here.”

Slater added, and Immich agreed, that the proposed site plan would not allow for similar berms along the other lot lines.

That drew objections from South Hills subdivision resident Henry Klein.

“There’s residents of South Hills looking at this and you’re not doing anything to accommodate the residents of South Hills. You’re only accommodating Greystone,” Klein commented.

Immich noted that there is a line of trees proposed along the north side of the apartment complex, along Hill and Dale Road, and that an existing tree line on the south edge of the parcel would remain in place.

Pohlman also pointed out that the South Hills residents are buffered from the apartments by the road, while Greystone residents have no road between them and the apartments.

Another concern raised by several Greystone homeowners was the potential of outdoor lights on the second floor of the apartments shining into their homes.

Slater responded that the lighting would be “no more illuminating than what you have on your house.”

“I think these (outside lights) are quite a bit less intrusive than street lights,” commission member John Nelson added. “I do not think they will be intensive to anybody 100 feet from the building.”

The developers did agree to change the control on the lights – required by code for building exits to balconies – to resident controlled instead of motion or darkness activated, if allowed under code.

The developers agreed to other requests from city staff as well, including stormwater retention pond maintenance, water service and more.

Slater noted that Premier is making the development at the request of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp., which identified a severe lack of apartment housing in the city of Plymouth and Sheboygan County.

“We think we can be successful with this property,” Slater stated.

The plan calls for eight 12-unit buildings located around a central stormwater retention pond, with a central office building and mailroom.

While he voted to approve the site plan, commission member Jim Flanagan did echo many of the concerns of the complex’s future neighbors.

“I find that the density of these apartments, given their distance from shopping, schools and so forth, is disturbing. I find the location to be somewhat incompatible with our growth. I am just hoping to raise those points,” Flanagan stated.

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