No decisions were made on which areas of the Village land use plan would be reviewed, but tempers flared between some Village Board members during the meeting.
The Village Board and the Land Use Plan Management Team met during a joint meeting Tuesday, August 2, to consider nine corridors in the Village they could revise. The Village has a current land use plan, which serves as a planning guide for zoning decisions and that ultimately influences where development can occur.
The Village Board decided to hold off on prioritizing the list until they receive a financial impact report from a consulting firm. They also wanted to understand the status and scope of several impending roads projects.
Still, tempers flared when Village Board member, Jerry Griswold, questioned why the Land Use Plan Management Team didn’t have more members, why there weren’t more citizens on the Committee and why staff members were allowed to vote. Staff corrected Griswold, saying they are not voting members and citizens from several Committees were included.
Julie Anderson, zoning administrator for the Village, said the Village Board had asked the group to define which corridors should be reviewed, not to specifically evaluate how the corridors should be changed. The reason the meeting was being held was to decide where to start first. But then they would start having discussions with the neighbors about how the corridors should be changed.
“Do we have to have this open to the public? Can’t you have this as a working group meeting?” Griswold asked.
“Yes, it’s the law,” Anderson said.
The statement drew gasps from the audience, which included a number of residents who live along Highway 31, and Four and Five mile roads. The group has regularly attended meetings pertaining to land use and have voiced opposition against many development projects. Many of the audience are members of the Caledonia Conservancy, which wants to maintain the rural character of the Village.
“You laugh, but that’s the only way we’re going to get anything done with this group,” Griswold said. “There are so many people on the Committee afraid to say anything because of the audience.”
Ron Coutts, the village president, took issue with Griswold’s criticism.
“To be fair, when I put this meeting together, I asked them to give me a list of areas we should consider, which they did,” Coutts said in a raised voice.
After much discussion, the Village Board agreed that they needed to understand the financial impact of developing the Village. They also have several roads projects that could influence their decisions, including Highway 38 and Interstate 794.
“What we’re missing is the report from Ehlers (the consulting firm the Village hired),” said Tom Weatherston, Village Board member and Committee Chair. “Once we see what’s in that report, we might bring up new ideas about revenue versus types of development…. (I)f there are viable options, we could add those in.”