Lacy Heights Neighborhood Website

Neighborhood Forum for Lacy Heights and Seminole Forest from 3/14/2019.

Here's a link to the complete forum video on FacTV: http://factv.fitchburgwi.gov/CablecastPublicSite/show/11080?channel=2

Following the March 14th candidate forum with Lacy Heights and Seminole Forest, each candidate submitted written responses to questions. Their answers are below.

Here are the six questions asked followed by submitted responses from each candidate.

1) In 2 minutes, please tell us about yourself and why you should be elected mayor/alder. What are the 3 greatest challenges for the city and how do you plan to address these challenges?

2) When Fitchburg residents were surveyed in 2017, “accountability" was the highest priority citizens wanted to see in city administrators and department heads. As Mayor/Alder, please name the steps you are going to take to make more accountable to citizens: a) yourself and other elected officials; b) the chairpersons and members of city committees/boards/commissions; and c) city administrators and department heads?

3) The North Stoner Prairie Neighborhood Plan was developed in 2012 and 2013 with the kind of notification and involvement required by law. The Comp. Plan was changed in 2017 for a six acre parcel from low/medium density to high density without the knowledge of affected neighbors. The City Council has twice passed a ordinance to reinstate low/medium density. The Plan Commission has twice rejected the Ordinance adopted by the Council. Currently this matter is tabled for further study to see if the ordinance can be published or must be sent back to the Plan Commission. As Mayor/Alder what will be the highest density you would allow on this parcel for purposes of a Comp. Plan Amendment or a rezone request, and why?

4) This spring the 3 year term of office for 4 of the 7 seats on the Plan Commission will expire. If you are elected Mayor, what criteria and process will you use to select the people you will nominate to fill those 4 seats? Will you ask your nominees to file the same financial disclosure form as the one you file, even though that is not required by a City Ordinance? If you are elected Alder, what criteria and process will you use to decide if you will vote to confirm the appointment of people who have been nominated to fill those 4 seats?

5) This year the City’s Comprehensive Plan will be updated for the 1st time in 10 years. The current Plan, does not allow the area west of Muchler Rd and south of Lacy Rd to be developed for a variety of reasons. There are also many other “rural” areas in Fitchburg that are directly adjacent to an urbanized area. When the Comp Plan Update comes to the Council for approval, what will you want to know (and what process will you use) before deciding if you will vote to approve any development beyond the boundaries of the currently urbanized area, if such development is recommended by the Plan Commission?

6) The Seminole Glen kettle is a unique natural gem in Fitchburg. Unfortunately, prolonged standing water in the kettle has become the norm in the last two years for a variety of reasons including actions (and inaction) by the city. This standing water is destroying the kettle ecosystem, causing a public health threat with billions of mosquitos, and is a drowning risk for neighborhood children. As an elected official, how will you work to spur action from the city to enact effective short-term and long-term solutions, and find the money to pay for them?”


Mayor - 2 candidates

JASON GONZALEZ FOR MAYOR

1.) Fitchburg is a wonderful place to live.  It is and has been a privilege and honor to be the Mayor of this City for the last 2 years and an Alderperson for the previous 4 years.  One of our greatest resources is our people:  Over the course of my 12 plus years living in Fitchburg, I have met people from all parts of our city and all walks of life.  They have a love and passion for Fitchburg which I share.  The three most important issues facing us, and which I am focused on as Mayor, are:  How do we continue to invest in a high level of city services and keep the tax rate reasonable?  I will continue to budget carefully, work collaboratively, and build our tax base.  In both of the years I have been Mayor, taxes have decreased.  The second issue is how do we grow responsibly and in a way that makes us a more inclusive, innovative, and safe City?  Fitchburg is 36 square miles and only 1/3 of our land has been developed, leading to competing interests with our urban, suburban, and rural communities.  In order to have balance, community stakeholders from all three communities need to be at the table as we review and revise our comprehensive plan.  The third issue is how do we address the impact of flooding and climate change on our city with comprehensive short-term and long-term solutions.  We have both opportunities and challenges in the next year.  I hope I can earn your support!

 

2.) Accountability is vitally important in elected office.  Over the course of my term as Mayor and if elected in the next term I will continue to be responsive, honest, and dependable to the residents of Fitchburg.  As it relates to District 4, I have gained and maintained the trust of hundreds of grateful citizens, not just in the Lacy Heights and Seminole Forest neighborhoods, but also the multiple other neighborhoods represented by 500+ signers of the NSPNP petition by being responsive and honest with them.  I reacted with immediate engagement when presented with the concerns of citizens and evidence of possible misrepresentation by the landowner in the NSPN.  All along I have supported the primary goals of citizens to restore public trust and operate Fitchburg government with openness and transparency.  I have prioritized citizen input and allowed early agenda item placement in consideration of people's time. Most importantly, I honored the commitment I made to citizens to support corrective action for mistakes made in the past and cast the deciding vote on two occasions to break the tie in the divided Council to such end.  Further, I have given my word, which is my bond, and I voted consistent with my word and did not change my vote once I decided to run for election like my opponent.

 

3.) The highest density I would allow is 9 unit per acre and I would push for owner occupied housing options.  In my role as Mayor I have been made aware of a forth coming proposal that is in line with the original NSP neighborhood plan of low to medium density and would restore the original plan and implement such.  I identified and acknowledge that the city made an error with the change in the original plan and I immediately took action by working with the landowner, developer, and citizens to find a solution consistent with original plan and we have done just that.

 

4.) I think it is important first to acknowledge the service of each one of our commission/committee members gives to our city.  Also, I am not one to count my chickens before they hatch but I can say that I support transparency on our commission/committees and I would support an ordinance requiring a financial disclosure statement as is required for those in elected office if brought forward to the council.  I would also make sure we adhere to the state statutory requirements for specific commissions.

 

5.) In reaching the decision on whether or not to extend our urban service area I would need information related to the future costs of such an expansion to our taxpayers as well as the effect on the environment.

 

6.) Flooding and storm water run off is a significant problem around the whole city.  It particularly is very problematic in District 4.  I am in the process of working with city staff to create an ad-hoc committee related to flooding and the effects of climate change on our city.  We need to have the information related to both short-term and long-term solutions and their costs so we can budget for them accordingly and immediately begin to take action to permanently remedy the flooding problems.

 

Conclusion

In Fitchburg we have beautiful natural areas, a business community propelled by environmentally responsible technology companies, and a well-designed urban center.  Fitchburg is a City with great potential.  Over my first term as Mayor, we have worked hard to harness and capitalize on that potential.  Fitchburg needs a leader who can continue to bring together this growing, diverse community and our City Council.  In my first-term as Mayor I have invested in our city employees, providing a cost of living increase in both years, invested in public safety and public works, all while reducing the annual city taxes.  We have improved transparency in our budgeting.  We have invested in over 10 non-profits ranging from violence prevention, youth programing, and a food pantry through our Health Neighborhoods Initiative.  There is more to do.  I ask for your support and your vote to continue to keep us moving forward. Thank you!



AARON RICHARDSON FOR MAYOR


1. Residents should vote for me because I'm committed to the city long term and we are tackling some issues that will have long term consequences. Revising the comprehensive plan is the most important thing we'll start working on this year and to do it right it will take more than a year. I am going to run again for Mayor next year because I don't want to switch leaders halfway through this important process. As part of this, I also pledge to build less apartments in the city of Fitchburg. We need more ownership opportunities and to stop increasing the percent of housing in Fitchburg that are rentals. Currently 51% of housing in Fitchburg are rentals and it is getting worse with at least 8 more apartments getting built this year. Figuring out what options we have with the Town of Madison is another important issue. From what staff has told us it will cost the city $1-$2 million per year to run the town. Money that can be better used for streets, water issues, etc. I also will improve the level of professionalism in the Mayor's office.

2. The past two years I have shown I listen and work with residents. People in my district can verify I fight for residents and help them with important issues. I took the lead in fighting against the high density town homes proposed in an area zoned for low density and sadly passed by the coucnil 6-2 (only Dan Carpenter fought against this project with me). I also have led the fight against putting apartments on S Fish Hatchery Rd close to Nobel Dr. These were projects that were not in the right place and citizens were adamantly against. I have already talked with city staff about including neighborhood associations in the notification process so groups like yours can be aware of development instead of the small number of people that get notified that live next to the development. Ultimately residents hold us accountable with their votes and support. The tremendous amount of support I have in my district is evidence of my accountability and hard work. I will also give staff clear direction on priorities. I will chair the Plan Commission, which the Mayor is supposed to do (though can assign to someone else).

3. First, I will be leading the Plan Commission and appointing people who are willing to listen to residents. As a project comes forward on this land it will be important to me to listen to residents. Improved communication I've mentioned earlier will also help to ensure residents know about projects like this to reduce the frustration that not enough people are notified.
 

4. I am going to chair the Plan Commission and select a different Alder to represent the Council. Rachel Lee has already stated she doesn't want to be re-appointed so I will be appointing a new person to her seat. With all of these openings I will talk with prospective appointees to figure out what their vision is for growth in the city and their willingness to listen to residents. I do not plan to have them file any disclosures. In my conversation with them I will ask about any conflicts though. With my leadership we will not see the constant ping pong back and forth between Plan and Council that has plagued us the past year. 

5. I am going to lead the revision of the comprehensive plan. This is such an important project, I think the Mayor needs to take a primary leadership role. An early part of the process needs to be creating a set of criteria to help establish how to determine areas that make the most sense to extend the urban service area. This revised plan will provide a blueprint for how development happens for the next 10 years. It is critically important to get feedback from all stakeholders, especially residents, during the revision process. This is so important and feedback is so important it will take more than one year to do this revision. I think it is important to have someone that is committed to Fitchburg long-term lead this project. We can't change a Mayor that is planning to be gone in one year, halfway through this process. 


6. This is one of a number of areas in the city with water issues, and one that we need take some action. Short term we need to look at ways to get the water out if it isn't draining appropriately. We need to make sure retention ponds are functioning properly and other changes in the area aren't negatively impacting the kettle. It sounds like there were some paths changed that is causing some of the issue. How can we revise those paths? I will work with public works to figure out long and short term solutions and try to determine how to pay for those changes. We need to figure out how to avoid these issues when there is an increase in severe weather events. There are a number of areas in Fitchburg that need this attention and planning. Another is Fitchrona Rd where it floods frequently by the bridge for the highway. 



TOM CLAUDER FOR DISTRICT 4, SEAT 7

1.  My name is Tom Clauder and I am running for Alder for District 4.  I have been a resident of Fitchburg for 32 years where I live with my wife, Mary Kay Clauder.  We have two adult daughters. I am currently serving as Alder and I believe my experience makes me an excellent candidate for re-election.  Prior to my position as Alderman, I was the Mayor of Fitchburg for 6 years and was also on the Dane county Board of Supervisors for 10 years.  I was also a Police Officer with the city of Fitchburg for 26 years.  I have served on several committees and commissions over the years, so have I a lot of history and knowledge on the issues facing Fitchburg today.  My three top priorities are:

Public Safety - This is the top priority of mine.  Keeping lives safe and property safe, in that order.  In the last budget I voted to hire one detective and one patrol officer.

Taxes - Keeping our property taxes in check continues to be a top priority. We need to stay below the levy limits to control spending.

Planning- The Comprehensive Plan needs to be redone.  This will help us determine where we grow and how much. We also need to prepare for growth with the annexation with the Town of Madison. Fitchburg will receive about 100 businesses with this annexation.

2.  Accountability-   The top priority of any elected official is to make sure you are a voice for your constituents. I take that very seriously.  When I heard about the density issues within the North Stoner Prairie Neighborhood, I found a mistake was made when the City Council voted in favor of the high density plan.  After several phone calls from the surrounding neighbors alerting me that a committee was previously formed and both the neighbors and the developer had agreed on low to medium density, I knew this mistake needed corrective action.  I drafted an amendment to the plan, to take the decision back down to low-to- medium density.  That amendment was co-authored with Alders, Carpenter and Bahr and had a lot of support from the surrounding neighborhoods. The City Council and the Plan Commission need to do a better job of collaborating together on new developments.  We also need to get city officials involved with solutions to problems.

3.  North Stoner Prairie Neighborhood.  My answer to this question is the same as question number two.  I would only support a maximum of 9 units per acre.

4.  The criteria I would use to confirm an appointment to the planning commission would be:

A. Can you make the meetings?  (Last year I was informed of an individual who was on one of our commissions who repeatedly skipped meetings.  She was eventually removed from that commission)

B- Do you have a conflict of interest?

C. What experience do you have that would make you a good applicant for this position?

 5. The criteria I would use to approve development beyond the boundaries to the current urbanized areas are as follow:

-Follow the Comprehensive Plan-Citizens should have input in the plan.

- What impact does the development have on city services?

-What impact does it have on traffic?

- The market can also drive where we grow and how much.

6. The Seminole Glen Kettle flooding needs to be addressed sooner than later.  After touring the area late last summer and seeing the standing water, I did bring this problem to the attention of the Public Works Department and the Parks Board for further action.  I learned that a pipe coming from the North Stoner Prairie neighborhood was sending water into the kettle.  We need to have a meeting between the neighbors and city officials and the North Stoner Prairie developer, so that corrective action can be taken soon.



MATT D JONES FOR DISTRICT 4, SEAT 7

1) My name is Matthew D Jones and I am running for City of Fitchburg Common Council, District 4, seat 7. I grew up in Neenah, Wisconsin, worked in the masonry construction, which was the family business, and eventually attended UW Oshkosh for my BS in Urban Studies then went on to UW Milwaukee where I earned a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Public Administration.

I have worked in economic development and planning in a historically significant city on the east coast and worked to facilitate conversations finding the right kind of growth within a mostly historically-preserved business district. I have utilized my understanding of Zoning when tasked to re-write commercial development chapters of the Zoning Code in effort to streamline the permitting process and to make the zoning code more understandable and development more predictable to residents and builders.

I moved back to Wisconsin in 2014 with my wife Jennifer and have chosen Fitchburg for a few of the same reasons many people decide to locate here: the amenities of the City close by and the opportunity to get outdoors and into the countryside within minutes, biking, hiking and exploring.

Today, I am here because I am concerned about the future of Fitchburg. I have decided to run for office because I want to do my part and serve the community in finding solutions to problems using my education and experience in make things better here.

The three greatest challenges for our city will be:

A. Creating a sense of community engagement and an open and responsive local government: Elected officials must present themselves as facilitators and encourage open, calm-headed, respectful discussion. This may be one way to encourage residents to participate in city matters and help to combat the feelings many have of being disenfranchised. I also plan to continue walking (or biking) in the district and asking people discuss their concerns, invite people to call me, and reply to email.

B. Updating our comprehensive plan: The plan update occurring this year will have significance to the entire population of the city for the next 20 years and beyond. As a vision document, it will be challenging to come to agree on a united vision.

One of our biggest challenges in updating our comprehensive plan will be finding the right facilitators to walk the community through the process, making certain that all voices are heard, and opinions collected and incorporated, and getting all of the elements of the plan addressed within the year.

C. Providing aspiring homeowners with attainable housing and a variety of affordable housing stock for anyone who wishes to call Fitchburg home: We need to see a variety of housing types and price points for first time buyers that at least pull the average new home cost in Fitchburg to under $400K. We need to look at our tight supply and try to respond to market demand. I understand we have concerns about building different kinds of housing where people are not used to seeing it. Again, this is what really needs to be outlined well in the comp plan update. There is a place for housing of all types. It just needs to be understood that there is a right place and an appropriate density.

2) To keep myself accountable, I think the most important thing is listening to the public. I want to hear ideas. I want to know what the people in the district are thinking as it pertains to city service delivery, how they feel about their neighborhood, and what I can do better as an Alder. I want to be known as an alder who is always available to talk to, always calls back, responds to issues respectfully, and genuinely wants to help solve issues. Listening is crucial in our search to find fairness and recognition within District 4 and citywide.

For committee members, chairpersons and board members, I think it is crucial to have people who have the disposition to be in a small room with a group of people with whom they do not automatically agree. We need to have committee members engaged in healthy conversation about issues that they may each have differing personal opinions on and may feel very strongly about but can put feeling aside to deal with facts and do their best to promote a healthy and safe community. Finally, I think it is important for committee members to know that they are there to serve the community by utilizing their knowledge or expertise on selected topics and to direct discussion so that residents can feel assured that they feel informed appropriately.

For City Administrators and Dept. Heads, we need to make it clear what our expectations are for these individuals. We need let them know what we expect them to do and how to report on their progress. I would like to see City administration at council meetings asked to introduce new business items on the agenda and explain the rationale for having the items introduced. I would also like to hear about how neighborhood complaints are tracking in the system, what department heads are doing to respond to citizen concerns, and the status of neighborhood petitions that have been circulated.

3) The City Council cannot act alone to make changes to the Comp Plan and the Plan Commission cannot get a Plan through without the majority of full Council approval. Also, the City council cannot make substantial changes (such as density) to the Comp Plan. Council can send the Plan back to Plan Commission with recommendations but, bottom line: one body cannot trump the other in regard to Comprehensive Planning, or any Subsequent Amendments.

The opinion is in from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and that is their findings. I am an urban planner and I am beside myself trying to figure out where the process went afoul. But as far as the highest possible density? I would recommend an intensity of use and density of housing that provides the best transition between neighborhoods. It would simply be bad practice to support any development that creates any kind of chilling effect on the nearby existing property owners’ use of their land or the enjoyment thereof.

4) I think it is crucial to have people with the temperament to engage in healthy and constructive conversation about issues that they may feel very strongly about, but will have an expansive capacity to listen. It is an absolute necessity for the sake of local democracy to have all opinions be freely expressed. It would be my hope that council would confirm mayoral appointments to boards and committees based on the appointee’s knowledge and experience, but mostly, I would like to see confirmation for individuals who are able to facilitate healthy discussion about a variety of issues and not try to dominate the meeting with their own agendas, I think that the Transportation and Transit Commission, which I have served on for about four years, is a good example of this.

Other criteria will include the level of nominee’s knowledge of local planning and zoning, their ability to weigh local economics, social and environmental justice on an equal scale. I would need to feel assured that a nominee understands the nexus of access, mobility and opportunity. A city’s design—OUR COMPREHENSIVE PLAN—either foster or inhibit these points.

Finally, for me to be comfortable with a nominee, I would like to review the application searching for where there may be areas of conflict in respect to employers.

5) I would say no to any development or expansion of city services to the south of Lacy and west of Mutchler. However, if the area were to be used to help with our never-ending issues in retaining storm water, or if the land were to be used to expand the reach of local farmers to a growing population, I would like to see proposals. I would also like to see if there were a way to utilize the land to agricultural science facility as an extension of the UW, or perhaps, used in the research & development of renewables. In those cases, I would consider some more extensive accessory developments.

We may need this land for future storm water management systems. We do not know the extent of which our community will be threatened by rising storm waters and we need to determine exactly our future capacity the least expensive path to create more before it is needed. We will need to care for fragile ecosystems that do exist and are under the threat of being washed away. If we find that our vulnerability to excessive flooding events could be lessened by integrating nearby lands in to the storm management system, don’t we have to look at that opportunity?

We need to remember why we have the Urban Growth Boundary. It is made to preserve the highest-quality agricultural lands and conservation of forests and open space. Urban sprawl creates greater burden on our transportation system and road network. Adding more utilities and service lines will stretch our capacity to a point where, I am afraid, they could break. The idea with the incorporation of the Urban Growth Area is to promote and provide high-quality, livable neighborhoods by improving public transit options, and encouraging affordable housing close to jobs and schools.

6) I walked the lower and upper kettle with Mr. Webster, who lives in the neighborhood, earlier this week he voiced his concerns as we looked over the upper and lower kettles. He explained the flooding events that have occurred over the past few years at Seminole Glen and discussed how the city had utilized drainage structure near Schuman and Park Hill Circle, which may have led to an inappropriate pattern of draining into the kettles as it may have been placed in the wrong location.

We really need to begin to address our water issues and look at new data and new engineering applications to not just remedy a situation but solve this problem with solid, 21 st century engineering methods. I really want to work on our community’s resiliency. We have major storm water events that used to happen every 100 years happening every 2 years. We need to look at measuring these kinds of vulnerabilities and start saving money for improved infrastructure.

I was talking with Mr. Webster after our tour and I explained that I was worried about the standing water that is now standing much longer in pools near where kids are playing and where people go to navigate between houses. The threat of vector borne disease is a real thing and I will be sure to raise awareness of this issue by stating that it is this could indeed become a public health risk. I would encourage support of city departments to find resources and funding to please mitigate this risk.



ED KINNEY FOR DISTRICT 4, SEAT 8

I’m Ed Kinney. I grew up on Irish Lane and my daughters are 7 th generation in Fitchburg. My family homesteaded in 1844 and founded the Irish Lane settlement. My great-great-great-grandfather was the town’s first surveyor. My grandfather was town water commissioner after retiring from farming. I have early memories of him and my uncle milking in our barn, and the cows being driven to pasture on Caine Road which was originally a dirt farm road.

Our west line fence divides the Oregon from the Madison school districts, but my brothers and I attended Edgewood with the other Irish-Catholic kids up and down Irish Lane. I graduated from UW-Madison with a business degree and went into banking.

I’ve been a commercial banker for over 30 years, and with Settlers bank for the last ten. I’m Vice Chair of Fitchburg’s Plan Commission, Chair of the Ag & Rural Affairs Committee, and was a member of the Fitchburg Housing Task Force. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to give back to the community and to help shape our future. As Alder I’ll rely on my professional experience and my 23 years on Plan Commission to help guide the city when it comes to land use planning, budgeting, and economic development.


1) The Comprehensive Plan update is critical from a long-term vision standpoint. Over the next year we’ll need a lot of public input. Our 2009 Comp Plan has produced high quality development while protecting natural resources, open space, and our agricultural heritage. We’ll review how our plan has performed, and take a flexible approach to making sure that a revised and updated plan will continue to move us forward in a tax-efficient manner. Council, Plan Commission and planning staff have largely turned over since 2009. I can help to bring all three up to speed on what went into the current plan.

Fitchburg needs to continue to hold the line on property taxes while re-focusing on basic services including public safety and road maintenance. We need to catch up and keep up with our roads and stop kicking overdue projects into next year’s budget. Storm-water will continue to be a focus for me. Our facilities need to be properly engineered and maintained to handle larger and more frequent rain events. I’ve met several times recently with our engineering staff and look forward to continuing to work with them on solutions for Lake Barney, Hillside Heights, Seminole Glen Park, Stoner Prairie, Fitchrona Road, Curry Court and other areas of concern. I’d like to see a comprehensive review of our storm water facilities. I’m knowledgeable on issues that affect all of our district, and the rest of the city.

2) Elected officials need to listen to their constituents, be responsive, and follow up on what they say they’re going to do. Members of committees and commissions need to listen to public input before making up their minds on issues, and then when all points have been heard and duly considered, make a decision that is in the best interest of the community as a whole. City employees are employees of the taxpayers and need to be held responsible by the people’s representatives: the City Council and the Mayor. My plan is to keep an open dialogue with neighborhood associations and leaders to stay on top of what’s happening in their neighborhoods and keep them informed of anything new coming up in the City that could affect their neighborhoods. Had that been done in 2017 it would have prevented the problem that has occurred at North Stoner Prairie.

3) It is my understanding that the developer is working on a plan to produce owner-occupied housing at a maximum of 9 units per acre. This would bring the project in at the maximum that Council had proposed. I have seen a rough draft of the plat and sample elevations and floor plans of the housing, which is intended to start under $300,000. I believe that if this plan comes forward it would produce an excellent product that would be affordable for future employees of Promega and Sub Zero, which plan to build new facilities right across Seminole Highway.

The timing of these units coming on the market can coincide with Sub Zero and Promega’s recruiting efforts. This could be an attractive neighborhood to live and work, near schools, a bike trail, retail, and on the edge of the countryside. As I’ve stated before this could be one of those instances where good planning and market timing come together to produce not just a good neighborhood but a great neighborhood. Based on what I’ve seen, if this project is brought forward I would support it at a limit of 9 units/acre.

4) Members of Plan Commission should have a wide variety of experience and viewpoints. In the past Plan Commission has had members with construction, storm water and traffic engineering experience, which has been immensely helpful. The Commission needs to proceed in a collegial and professional manner, be receptive to public input, and have the backbone to make decisions that are in the best interest of the community.

That’s why the Plan Commission is an appointed body rather than elected body. The Plan Commission should neither be a rubber stamp for developers nor a puppet of City Council.

5) There will always be rural areas directly adjacent to urbanized areas – how can there not be unless we develop every square inch of the City? Are we to look at every open space in Fitchburg as an opportunity for development? I should hope not. Public input that went into the 2009 Comp Plan made it very clear that that is not what the citizens of Fitchburg want. We can continue to grow along the path of the 2009 plan, which looks out 50-75 years and contains enough land in the future urban development area to last us many decades. If the Plan Commission recommends that we change the path of growth in the updated plan, Council needs to understand why. Are we growing where we have north-south transportation corridors that can handle additional capacity? Are we preserving our best farmland and sensitive natural resources? Are we protecting our groundwater recharge areas for our city wells? Are we building in areas that drain well or are we building in closed basins with no outflow, thereby exacerbating already troublesome storm water issues?

Do you want a Council and puppet Plan Commission that will ignore these issues and develop willy-nilly wherever a landowner, a developer and their alderman agree? I think the citizens of every district in Fitchburg should think about this, long and hard, before they go the polls on April 2nd.

6) While the kettle is clearly not the only area of Fitchburg that has water issues, it is certainly an important one. Lake Barney is at about 800 acres whereas it is normally about 30 acres. As we speak, the Cty is pumping water out of the pond at Hillside Heights, but the water is flowing in at a faster rate than it is being pumped out. In both of these areas people’s homes are threatened. Regarding the kettle, I have spoken with citizens with knowledge of the history of this problem and met with city engineering staff. I understand that in the past the kettle would take on water during spring thaws or during a heavy rain, but then that water would infiltrate fairly quickly. There was a drain tile that put water into the area that has been closed off, however the kettle did not drain. I was told by a County official that groundwater throughout the County is up about ten feet, and city staff is concerned that the reason the kettle is not draining is groundwater saturation. I’m not sure whether this is the case. If the kettle infiltrates the water that would be the best-case scenario. If not, high groundwater could be the issue. I would support a plan to pump water out if it’s not draining, assuming there is somewhere to pump it to, and see whether it then stays dray or seeps back in. If it seeps back in then we have to recognize that we are at the mercy of the groundwater table.

Note: Following the forum I spoke with Brian Webster and David Haight. It sounds like it will be necessary to get the culvert between the two ponds to the correct height and shore up the upper pond so that it holds water, and the elevation of the trail may need to be adjusted. We need a concrete plan and to move forward on it.



JANELL RICE FOR DISTRICT 4, SEAT 8

Thank you for hosting this event. My name is Janell Rice and I live in Lacy Heights. I have lived in Fitchburg for 17 years with my partner Fred. I have 2 adult children. Previously I was President of the Lacy Heights Neighborhood Association, served our country in the US Air Force, and I grew up in Cottage Grove, graduated from Monona Grove.

I originally got involved in this process based on what happened with the North Stoner Prairie. I have provided testimony repeatedly at both the Common Counsel and Plan Commission meetings. Ultimately, I decided to run because we had 3 alders who were fighting an uphill battle to restore transparency as a result of NSP, and I also witnessed the thousands of hours our neighbors put into preparing for testimony, sitting in meetings waiting for our turn to speak. I decided that we needed to get ahead of this and shift it from 3 people climbing up hill to be 50% of the common counsel. This seat is very important in determining our futures. I ask you to listen to us tonight, but also remember our history with this process. I have consistently demonstrated my commitment to get involved and fight for our rights.

I love my neighborhood and this City. When I saw what was going on early, I reached out to drive change, as did others. After I made a decision to run, I started listening to people. What did they care about? Where were their concerns. I found that the things I was frustrated by and the things I cared about were the same issues throughout District 4. I heard similar stories to mine in Seminole Forest, Byrnwood, in the rural areas from the farmers that I visited with last night. It seems so basic, but I have heard countless stories where people who live in this district feel like they are either not listened to, or don’t have a voice. I have worked with Tom Clauder and have witnessed the challenges we face in this city to gain transparency. I have been personally involved in the struggles we face in trying to find a way to have balanced development. Professionally, I have worked with many organizations to meet the needs of their projects and do so on time, in scope and on budget with very large and complex projects throughout the State of Wisconsin. City and county governments were my clients when I was in the technology sector, so I have a solid understanding of the challenges they face, the responsibilities theyhave and the importance of the work each of the departments provide as part of the business of running a city. I will take my personal experience along with my business understanding and results, and make sure we are listening to our citizens, and making good decisions on behalf of our City.

1) What are the 3 greatest challenges for the city and how do you plan to address these challenges?For the purposes of this evening, I am focusing on the needs of District 4, which is the District I am asking to represent. Having said that, these challenges are not unique to District 4. We need to improve transparency at City Hall as I have said before. It has been clear to me as I have worked with Tom, Jay, Pete, Colleen, Michael and others that have been part of this process from our neighborhoods that this needs to be a top priority. We have witnessed people who represent the City or its interest and who should have recused themselves from proceedings, and when I took these issues to leadership, no action was taken, repeatedly. We have seen public notices of meetings that weren’t in plain English. We have seen a process that can find residents to get their buy in to approve initial development, but then doesn’t reach back when it appears to be contentious. We have provided testimony at the Plan Commission meetings and in the same meeting had the committee act as though they had never heard a word we said minutes before, and make decisions while ignoring evidence provided in these testimonies. This has happened repeatedly relating to the decision on Blackhawk Church. Specifically, Blackhawk Church was factored in to the plan initially, before NSP was approved. Years later there have been repeated conversations where the Common Counsel or the Plan Commission stated that it needed to consider high density to recover financially from this decision. We provided proof that it had already been there, but to this day it is still misunderstood by key members that represent the city, by the media, and others. We also need to make sure that we have balanced development and build ownership opportunities to foster vibrant neighborhoods.

2) This is an area of frustration as I visit with people throughout District 4. I hear repeatedly about calls that are not returned after several attempts, promises that were made to show up and meet with people to resolve problems-and then never showed up, and never followed up. This happens in the neighborhoods and in the country. The first thing we need to do is work with leadership to set basic expectations for responding to citizens, and there needs to be a formal process for elevating and ownership. Our citizens should be able to count on getting a return call-at least. We also need to have a process put in place that with any public meeting right after the Pledge of Allegiance we further make a pledge to be transparent in our governance and decision-making. If someone is unable to do so at a given meeting, they need to recuse themselves from that meeting and that decision. We have seen not only the frustration that comes of this, but discussion of and follow through on legal action. The City needs to put processes in place to both do the right thing and not put themselves in this kind of risk.

3) This parcel must be restored to the originally agreed plan not to exceed 9 units/acre. It is the agreement we originally approved and the promise Fitchburg originally made to us. In my opinion, it is just as much about keeping our word, as it is the density conversation. Furthermore, we need to make sure we do diligence as a City in follow through. In this particular case, the City did not follow up to confirm that conversations had happened between the developer and the original neighborhood stakeholders- namely Seminole Forest and Lacy Heights. Furthermore when the City was asked, they didn’t apply common sense during the January 16, 2018 meeting where they were aware of our significant involvement as part of the plan and quote ‘its not going to be an easy hurdle to get over-referring to changing the minds of the neighbors, and yet when it went through with no questions or no resistance, the City accepted it on face value. THAT doesn’t pass the smell test. So now we have made a mistake as a City by not confirming what we strongly suspected would be an issue. Then when the neighbors do find out and bring it back for the right thing to happen, we still refuse to correct our mistake. This has happened time and time again with this project including the previous conversation. the disappearing church and the kettle. This project has had transparency issues all over the place in several areas and repeatedly in the same areas. The back and forth between the Common Counsel and the Plan Commission is another example of unclear and broken process.

4) We need to make sure first of all that we have a written understanding with these individuals that they have a responsibility to the City and are willing to pledge transparency at every public meeting in addition to financial disclosure. When you represent the City, you make decisions on behalf of the City, you also put the City in potential harm’s way. These decisions can be at times contentious, without introducing the additional risk that representation isn’t committed to transparency. We also need to understand their background and what qualifies them to make decisions in this area. There are many factors that need to be balanced including housing, urban service areas, civil engineering, additional engineering looking at traffic, and many other areas that need to look from different perspectives to assure our comprehensive plan is, well, comprehensive. It is a fine line to find individuals who are in a position to make informed decisions, without having a conflict of interest at times. Fortunately, we have tremendously talented people that live in this City and want to see the right decisions be made. Finally, we need to clear up either the charter or the hierarchy for the Plan Commission. It needs to be clear what their role is, and what it is not. Traditional understanding would be that the Plan Commission advises the Common Counsel and that the Common Counsel has final authority. This should be resolved prior to any changes so that the people on the Pan Commission understand their responsibilities and reach.

5) We need to consider what our priorities are for growth to re-evaluate and potentially re-address the urban service area. Basically, what that means is where do we want our populated areas to grow geographically and to serve what market-for example, do we want single family houses, or is this for something else. 51% of our inventory is now rental. I think that is enough. We need to start focusing on ownership opportunities for housing. Then we need to consider where that makes sense in carving out the proposed urban service areas. There is much to consider at that point including how close is infrastructure like water, and other things the city will need to get to that area. CARPC, DNR, How much traffic is there already in that area and will our roads need to be redone to support the projected growth in traffic. Do we anticipate families with school age children? What will make sense there potentially in placement to school and the impact on those schools, and which school district. As you can see there are many areas of the city that need to get involved in the various decisions that need to be balanced as part of the choices we make. Finally, I think we need to look back at the last 10-20 years. If we have learned anything, it is that these decisions look very different on paper than they do in the real world. We need to learn from both our mistakes and what went right to do the best possible job, and make the best decisions for our Cities future, and to be responsible with the impact on our taxes. Bad planning is very expensive. Respond to question from audience: Tax impact, then in order Civil engineering, impact on neighbors, and then consistent with the goals that have been targeted for growth.

6) The first step has been taken. In November the valve was turned off that either contributed or created this mess. It’s not clear to me which one it is. The valve needs to remain off, and we need to let the ground thaw. Once the ground thaws, we need to look at getting in there and pumping out the excess water. Then three things need to happen. We need a few neighbors who have solid institutional knowledge preferably that have the kettle in their back yard to agree to serve and communicate with a small team of people, likely including city engineering, and one or both of the alders. Ultimately the neighbors will have both the institutional knowledge and the proximity to track and report status updates-this is the best place to gather that vital information. I am hopeful that this will self-correct, but hope is not a plan. So, we also need a budget with a plan to consider infrastructure and/or services to correct, plus a plan to look at restoring the damage to the trees and habitat that has already happened. We cannot replace the trees that were lost-the cost of those trees given their maturity would be prohibitive, but reasonable efforts need to be made to stop this mess and provide an effort at some level of restoration. We also need a plan and a budget to fix the drainage issue that will likely back up and affect things behind the valve. This was not an appropriate solution in the first place, clearly. Finally, we need to understand how this happened. We cannot have development happening in such a poorly implemented way. There are professional firms that look at these kinds of factors and recommend them as part of a civil engineering practice. I am sure we hired good services in the design phase, but at some point, it seems likely we didn’t follow through on the original recommendations, so here we are again.

My final point here ties right back to my first point. We need comprehensive plans, we need to follow the plans and we need to check to make sure the plans were followed. We can’t be rubber stamping these key decisions. And we can’t take short cuts. Ultimately this decision will need to go back to the City to determine if these costs can be recovered from the organizations that were part of this original plan, or if this was a City oversight and needs to be funded as a budget item.







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