Get the facts. Hear what others think.
Build your own well-informed opinion!
To all Stakeholders — For, Against, or Undecided:
If you find an error in what we have posted here, please let us know and we will correct it.
9/10 starting to post info here. more soon!
WHO WE ARE
We are a group of neighbors who have organized to oppose the current design of the proposed apartment building and advocate for community engagement in how our neighborhoods develop.
Should neighbors' concerns be listened to when a developer seeks to build a project that requires a zoning change? We think so, and this project's fast-track course of approval has allowed no genuine community input into the design of the proposed building.
Legistar - Milwaukee's Legislative Research Center
This is a wonderful resource for civic engagement, making it easy to keep track of the workings of government from home. Submittals of the developers, letters of support and opposition, staff reports, meeting minutes and videos are all available. We've selected and presented the most significant documents for your information, but if you want to do a deep dive, you can go to the source. Here are the starting points:
File #220279 - Historic Preservation Commission
resolution approving Certificates of Appropriateness for the parish hall demolition and construction of the apartment building.
passed by the HPC on July 11th, 2022
File #220401 - Ordinance changing the zoning of the lot from RM3 to RM6.
approved conditionally by the City Plan Commission (CPC) on August 22, 2022
scheduled before the Zoning Committee (ZND) on September 13
Zoning, Neighborhoods, and Development Committee Members
The zoning change is being considered by the ZND Committee of the common council Tuesday, 9/13. Tell them what you think!
We have submitted this document to them outlining many of our neighbors' objections to the project: KEEP OUR NEIGHBORHOOD AESTHETICS document. If you agree, let them know! Better yet, you could express your opinions in your own words. But do it quickly!!!
Here are names and email addresses of the five committee members:
Alderman Murphy, Chair: email@example.com
Alderman Bauman, Vice Chair: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alderman Dimitrijevic, Member: Marina@milwaukee.gov
Alderman Perez, Member: email@example.com
Alderman Stamper, Member: Russell.Stamper@milwaukee.gov
~2019-Present: St. Marks meetings & planning, leading to selection of DeMichele Company
St. Marks planning & discussions with developers. (_____ in community meeting video)
WHAT DIDN'T HAPPEN: Community Engagement with Neighbors
Rumors & Speculation.
Post on Nextdoor (link to it) speculating about 80-unit building, denial and comment by a member of the church that they "could not develop because of deed restrictions"
6/1? Notification of Neighbors
Neighbors within 250 feet of the development notified in a letter by mail. This was the first open engagement with neighbors.
6/13 "Community Meeting" Organized by Developers
Developer/Architect Michael DeMichele (DeMichelle Company LLC), Architect Jim Shields (HGA), and ______ (Catalyst Construction) led a community meeting the day before applying to the HPC.
Video of Meeting (1 hr 30 min)
Developers' Presentation (PDF) - These are the slides from architect Jim Shields' (HGA) presentation. Some of the graphics have since been updated.
What we think:
The developers presented this meeting as a suitable replacement for similar meetings former Alderman Nik Kovac had held in the past with neighbors and community stakeholders, but there was little space in this meeting for genuine community input. Although great as a design presentation, its purpose was plainly to convince that they had thought of everything and come up with a great plan, rather than to listen openly to community input & critique.
Design is an iterative process of creation and critique, the discovery of problems and their creative solution. It was clear from this meeting that the design team didn't regard design problems perceived by neighbors as problems they cared to address.
At one point, one of the presenters said that they had the support of Jonathan Brostoff, who will be unopposed in the November election for Nik Kovac's vacant alderman seat. Right now, we have no alderman representing us. If we had an alderman, we should expect him/her to solicit genuine community input before forming an opinion based on meeting with well-connected (and admittedly deservedly well-respected) developers.
6/14 Application for CoA submitted to HPC
The day after their "community meeting", the developers submitted their plans to obtain a Certification of Appropriateness (CoA) from the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). This is necessary because the lot is in a historic district.
Application - contains the developers textual description explaining how the design respects its historic context.
Neighbors within 200 feet received from the City a notification by mail dated 6/15 of the HPC hearing scheduled for 7/11.
7/11 HPC public hearing: approval of CoA's for Parish Hall and Apartment Building
Details of this meeting, developers submittals, and letters of support and opposition are available online through Legistar (File #220279).
CoA for Apartment Building (PDF)
contains more up-to-date renderings, including a street-view perspective at the end.
8/18 KONA group files complaint in Court ... and on 8/29 withdraws it
Our group hired lawfirm Mawicke & Goisman to review legal challenges to the process as it was going forward. On the basis of their analysis and information that we collected, we filed suit against the city of Milwaukee. The full text is here:
Summons and Complaint (PDF) - this contains a lot of solid points, well-argued and referenced to existing laws.
After the August 22nd CPC hearing, we realized the lawsuit was complicating communication with the city, developers, and others, so we filed with the court on 8/29 to withdraw it. It did help us get some of our points across, but we really want to collaborate with the developers and the city in a more positive manner.
Notice of Voluntary Dismissal (PDF) and Order of Dismissal (PDF)
What we think:
Is such a big jump in zoning really necessary? Why?
What about the process? Should we accept that the city hasn't planned this change but is reacting with a simple yes/no to a single plan from a single developer? How can this process provide the most benefit for all its citizens?
We realize that we are lucky to live in a neighborhood that has enough disposable income and time to organize and file a lawsuit so we can have a voice and not be ignored. This doesn't make us NIMBYs -- NOBODY SHOULD HAVE TO SUE THE CITY TO HAVE GOOD-FAITH INPUT INTO HOW THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPS. We'd like this to establish a precedent for how all neighborhoods in the city should be treated.
A September 5th article in the Milwaukee Business Journal describes a much better process being led by city planners in Bay View.
"New Bay View plan to address affordable and 'missing middle' housing". (content behind a paywall, unfortunately)
Highlights (emphasis added):
"In the last 12 months, the city's planning staff conducted three community meetings and recently wrapped up an online survey designed to gather neighbors' feedback."
"The BMO Harris site has previously attracted development proposals — including apartment plans from Milwaukee's F Street Group in 2018 — but residents objected to the density. The plan DCD is drafting is an attempt to "get ahead" of future proposals for that site by collecting feedback from residents about what they'd like to see there, Smith said."
"Before the end of the year, the department plans to publish a draft plan and conduct a final neighborhood meeting, Smith said. Then it would require public hearings with the city's plan commission and the zoning, neighborhoods and development committee before it could go to the Common Council for approval.
The city's planning staff would use the final plan as a guide when evaluating development proposals."
Why can't this kind of community engagement happen in our neighborhood? Is it because developer DeMichele is so well-liked and well-connected (for admittedly good reasons -- his other developments are well-regarded) at City Hall that it's a no-brainer for them now to approve projects when he's involved? Is this a good process and precedent?
8/22? City Plan Commission (CPC) conditionally approves zoning change
After a >5-hour hearing, the CPC conditionally approved zoning change from RM3 to RM6, subject to results of a traffic study, which was ordered by city and paid for by DeMichele.
CPC Letter to ZND Committee - Recommends approval of the zoning change from RM3 to RM6. Summarizes the process to-date for the ZND committee, and outlines the positions of those in support and opposition expressed in the hearing..
CPC Staff Report -- This is an excellent summary of the issues city planners considered in reviewing the application for the zoning change, and gives the rationale for their decisions.
The commission's letter to the ZND left out two significant points which we have raised -- opportunities for homeownership as opposed to rentals, and affordability of the proposed units. And we disagree wtih the characterization of the developers' "public meeting" referenced in the CPC Letter as evidence of community engagement. It was held late in the design process, and was not a genuine attempt to allow community engagement and input.
9/3 Traffic study complete & posted online. Neighbors notified by mail.
This is the traffic study that was ordered by the City Plan Comission.
Traffic Study. The study's conclusions are copied below:
The proposed apartment building on Hackett Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is expected to generate a low number of trips during the weekday and weekday peak hour time periods, with negligible impact to delays and queues at the intersections surrounding the site. The low traffic volumes and one-way operation of Hackett Avenue is expected to result in safe operations for pedestrians and bicyclists through the area.
The underground parking garage within the apartment building is expected to accommodate the peak parking demand for the development (54% occupancy). A new loading zone will be provided for deliveries and drop-offs for the proposed apartment building. In the event of delivery vehicles double-parking in front of other cars parked on the street, the cross-section is wide enough to accommodate three rows of parked vehicles plus a travel lane for other vehicles to pass through.