MENOMONIE – The Menomonie City Council voted Monday to ask an Eau Claire developer to reduce a proposal for a 78-unit apartment complex on 21st Street.
According to a plan from developer Capital Investment Partners of Eau Claire, Terrace Ridge would host 11 buildings and 78 units on a 10¾-acre vacant property: two 12-plexes, six eight-plexes and three duplexes.
The council voted Monday to ask the developer to cut down the number of units, better separate the apartments from single-family homes to the north and add fencing around a proposed pond.
Council members Lee Schwebs, Nathan Merrill, Mary Solberg, Jeff Luther, Jan Traxler, Eric Sutherland, Robin Sweeny and Faith Bullock voted for the changes. Hector Cruz, Ryland Erdman and Randy Sommerfeld voted against the proposal.
The council also postponed a vote Monday on rezoning the property from single-family residential to multi-family residential.
The proposal met with strong criticism Monday from neighborhood residents, who said traffic and the nearby schools would endanger pedestrians, children and drivers.
The complex would sit next to the Menomonie Middle School and about half a mile south of Oaklawn Elementary.
According to the general plan, the complex would include three-bedroom units, “luxury” and “standard” two-bedroom units and one-bedroom units, with rents ranging from $800 to $1,275 a month.
Albright said Monday the complex would be 58% green space, and added a five-foot boulevard and pedestrian sidewalk to the nearby school.
To proceed with the project, the city would have to rezone the land for multiple-family residential use. It is currently zoned single-family residential.
Over 30 people attended a council meeting Monday night; 10 spoke against the Terrace Ridge proposal. Two, including an engineer for the project, spoke for the proposal.
Rebecca and Craig Luecke, who live in a home next to the Terrace Ridge site, criticized the proposal.
“We assumed it would be developed the same to keep the integrity of the area ... this is still too dense,” Rebecca Luecke said.
Sherry Gibbs said students may be in danger if 21st Street sees a significant uptick in traffic: “That’s a lot of children walking to school or walking home from school if their parents are not able to drop them off or pick them up during the day.”
In a petition from residents of Wilson Avenue and 15th Street, 16 people urged the council to deny the proposal and keep the property zoned single-family residential.
Council members Randy Sommerfeld, Ryland Erdman and Faith Bullock expressed worry that traffic would congest the street permanently, and that adding apartments nearby would lower the value of single-family homes next door.
Council members Lee Schwebs and Eric Sutherland said they supported the project, citing a housing deficit within the city.
Capital Investment Partners co-owner Bill Albright agreed Monday that the city has a housing deficit and an aging housing stock.
“A city needs a certain portion of new product to fill the need. Otherwise residents aren’t going to stay in town,” Albright said.
Apartments would be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units with garages and decks/patios. The general plan included a buffer of a pond and trees between the complex and single-family homes to the north.
CIP has developed similar apartments, including Woodland Ridge townhouses across 21st Street and Whisper Ridge townhouses on Nicholas Drive.
The city Plan Commission rejected in February an initial plan for Terrace Ridge, which originally included 12 buildings and 96 units.
However, the commission asked developer Paul Madsen to work with city staff on a new, less dense plan.
Nearby neighborhood residents criticized the proposal at several city meetings. Middle school pick-up and drop-off traffic congests roads, and adding apartments would only make the problem worse, residents said.
Menomonie Police Chief Eric Atkinson recommended the city reject the proposal at a March meeting, saying he would be in favor if the road was repaired and widened and traffic measures were added.
The complex would likely be built in three to five years, Albright said Monday.