By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
NG apartment complex plans see progress
Proposed Elmer Road development could break ground in August

NEW GLARUS — A six-acre parcel of land near Valle Tell Drive along Elmer Road in New Glarus may soon be developed in the first phase of a planned multiple-family development aimed at adding housing to the village with 10 units dedicated to adults with cognitive disabilities.

Plan Commission members met to discuss the development Nov. 15 at New Glarus Village Hall, moving to a larger than usual meeting room due to the attendance of more than 20 members of the public.

Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corp. President Mary Wright said the planned development could break ground in summer 2019. Dan O’Connell of WHPC said the company has projects in 58 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and that those buildings are 97 percent occupied. 

The project would add an estimated initial $35,000 to the village tax base. 

Phase 1 of the Valle Tell development would include 40 units within a three-story wood-framed building with 10 units dedicated to those with disabilities. The remaining 30 would be a mix of one- to three-bedroom apartments on a sliding scale income basis. Phase 2, which would be another building with the same number of units, would not be realized for at least another five years, Wright said.

For parents like Mary Anne Oemichen, who is one of the founding members of Home of Our Own in New Glarus, the steps of securing a building are about the future of their children. Oemichen has a 25-year-old daughter named Amy who has autism. 

As she got older, Oemichen said it became apparent a plan was needed. Housing needed to be placed in a nearby area, much like New Glarus where her daughter grew up, to ensure that their children are secure even after the parents are gone. 

At the Plan Commission meeting, Oemichen said the waiting list for a space at the local nursing home was at 91 people. She noted later that because the generation which saw a surge in children with autism spectrum disorder and Asperger syndrome diagnoses has now reached adulthood, these types of buildings will be in demand in years to come.

“It’s going to be an absolutely huge need throughout the country,” Oemichen said, adding that this project may be the first of its kind in Wisconsin. 

The development will allow young people with autism to interact with one another and as members of a community while still having services provided to them, she said.

“We think this development kind of meets all of those needs,” Oemichen said of both community and independence gained through living in an apartment building. “It was always our goal, from the beginning, that they would be able to transition to a community that is their home or feels like home.”

She added that housing was a need required in the village comprehensive plan and that the village seems excited to have additional housing options. There are roughly 17 families who have expressed interest in the project, Oemichen added.

After concerns during the Oct. 25 Plan Commission meeting from residents over traffic and infrastructure within the area near the Valle Tell Soccer Park, there were questions from commission members like Kevin Budsberg and Denise Anton Wright. 

Much of the discussion included parking and other infrastructure modifications. The commission was discussing the possibility of variances for the project with parking and for the density of parking lots to be 12 percent lower than outlined in zoning code.

Village Engineer Pat Rank of Madison-based Strand Associates Inc. said that “typically” for site plans, there is more engineering and final numbers established before the Plan Commission approves of a project, leaving only minor details to be later addressed. He suggested the plan should have one more review, given the questions about the road and other infrastructure. 

Christopher Gosch of Midwest Modern, who provided a demonstration on the off-street parking in front of the proposed building but indented from Elmer Road, said because of the time of the financing of the project, the organizers were not yet “at that level of details.” 

O’Connell said the deadline for federal funding applications is Dec. 14. The group should receive more information in February and hopes to break ground at some point in August after getting full funding in April.

The commission passed both requests for variances, one on the conditional use permit and the other for a minimum number of parking stalls required by zoning code. The approval of both enables project organizers to proceed with the funding application, O’Connell said. 

Village Administrator Bryan Gadow said the discussion could be brought back for more consideration in May for a site plan review. Budsberg moved to have the village evaluate what, if any, improvements would be needed to update infrastructure within the area and for the village to review the inset parking plans and maintenance of the road and sidewalk with the village attorney. He also called for a review of the development plans to address Rank’s concerns. The other members of the commission agreed.