Shorewood mulls proposal for Towne Center land
By Clare Walters Correspondent January 9, 2013 9:42AM
Updated: February 14, 2013 6:21AM
What is the future of the Shorewood’s Towne Center?
The village board is pondering that question as its members consider a developer’s proposal to build out 58 of 200 vacant residential lots in the Towne Center subdivision that lies immediately north of Village Hall.
Trustees Tuesday gave a first read to amendments that would make way for the subdivision’s development. Among the proposed changes is an allowance for use of vinyl siding, which was prohibited, and a reduction the minimum square footage for ranch and two-story homes by 100 and 200 feet respectively.
Trustee Gary Fitzgerald said the design and architectural guidelines for the development remain largely unchanged, but the village’s vision for the subdivision and current residents’ concerns require that officials carefully consider the measure.
“The reason for some heightened sensitivity is because the Towne Center is a special place,” he said. “We had a vision for it before the economic downturn. It was interrupted by downturn, but we have to be careful that any changes don’t harm the vision the village has for the subdivision.”
Rob Getz, of Ryan Homes, said his company is making every effort for its product to “fit in” to the village’s plan.
“We chose this subdivision for what it is and we’re definitely interested in keeping it that way,” he said. “We’re not trying to make the subdivision into something it’s not.”
Existing standards for the Towne Center require homes be sided with Hardie board — a fiber cement siding — or cedar siding. By adding vinyl to the allowable material types, the developer would be able to meet market demands, Getz said.
Trustee Celine Schwartz asked about the quality of the vinyl product, noting that in the past the trustees have heard complaints about poorly sided homes.
Getz said the vinyl planned for the homes is thicker than what the basic standards require and is part of a system of materials designed to be more energy efficient when compared to Hardie board.
Manny Kianicky of Blue Shorewood — owners of the land — said in selecting a builder, he worked to understand the original intent of the community. He believes Ryan Homes is the builder that best suits the vision for the subdivision.
“The problem is that these subdivisions went dormant five to six years ago and in five to six years the world has dramatically changed,” he said. “We’re just asking for a minimum number of changes to adjust to the realities of the marketplace.”
Trustee Dan Gron said the board has one question to answer.
“If we adopt this, are we altering the essential character of the neighborhood?” he said.