Finding right balance for south side apartments

BALANCE CAN BE A challenge to accomplish. Yet it has to be achieved constantly in order for any community to survive and thrive.

That was what the Plymouth Plan Commission was aiming for earlier this month when it reviewed a site plan for a proposed eight-building, 96-unit apartment complex at the corner of State 67 and Hill and Dale Road.

The proposal from Premier Real Estate Management LLC is in response to a very real, well-defined need for apartments in the county and in the city of Plymouth.

The need was documented by the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp., which found that local employers were hampered in attracting new employees by the lack of quality rental housing. Many of those they hire prefer to rent at first before settling down and buying a home if they decide to stay in the area.

Premier has built and manages apartment buildings throughout the Midwest and in Sheboygan and Sheboygan Falls here in the county in response to that need.

The site they found in Plymouth, however, drew questions, concerns and opposition from their potential neighbors in the Greystone and South Hills subdivisions.

All of that came to a head before the commission as they considered the site plan proposal.

City staff worked with the developers to address many of the issues, drawing up a substantial list of requirements for them to meet before the plan even came to the commission.

Still more than 50 residents of the two subdivisions crowded the room during the commission meeting to scrutinize and question the plan themselves.

Officials pointed out that the proposal meets the zoning for the property and fits in with the land use maps in the city’s master plan.

Representatives of Premier pointed out that their plan did not utilize the maximum density for living units or building footprints allowed on the property.

But they balked at providing a desired eightfoot berm between their property and Greystone, instead proposing a five-foot berm with trees along the entire length. They also plan to keep an existing tree line along the south lot line, where a future potential expansion of Greystone could create new neighbors, and to put in a line of trees along Hill and Dale Road as further screening.

It wasn’t enough to make some neighbors happy – especially some in South Hills – but it was a solid step by the developer to try to be a good neighbor.

The discussion even touched on the issue of second floor lights on the proposed buildings, with neighbors concerned about them shining into their windows. Although there is little likelihood of that, the developers still agreed to modifications so that the lights would not be on constantly.

The bottom line was that the developers and the city worked together to create a needed development that should be as unobtrusive as possible while helping to fuel future growth and economic development in the city.

Potential development on the site – across two roads from existing industrial and commercial sites – could have been much denser, more unsightly, more noisy and much less attractive than what is going in there.

That’s called finding a balance.

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