When it comes to affordable housing, Whitewater officials recently went on record in saying the city has been removing as much red tape as possible for any new residential developments that take root in the community.

Chris Munz-Pritchard, neighborhood services director and city planner, recently discussed a completed housing affordability report, which will become an annual tradition.

Municipalities across Wisconsin are being required to compile a report about what steps are being taken to keep administrative-type costs down for new residential developments. The maneuver comes at the hands of a state statute.

In the city’s inaugural report, which Milwaukee-based urban planning consultants Vandewalle & Associates compiled, data reveals Whitewater officials charge a range of fees, many associated with reviews of proposals for new developments.

Combing through a preliminary subdivision plat, for example, could cost between $1,500 and $3,000, while a planning consultant could charge anywhere from $1,600 to $12,000 for land development that requires a conditional-use permit.

The review of what Whitewater charges for new residential developments is not an unheard of practice within the confines of city hall, Munz-Pritchard said.

“Every year, we look at adjacent communities and what they’ve been charging,” Munz-Pritchard said at a Plan and Architectural Review Commission meeting Dec. 9. “We’ve been quite low.”

Munz-Pritchard and commissioners shared concerns with a new provision in the state statute — one identifying what municipalities could do to reduce costs associated with new developments by 20 percent.

While he said he supports the overarching concept of shepherding in affordable housing, council member Lynn Binnie said he believes the statute has a number of unintended consequences if it truly were implemented.

“I think it’s an absolutely nutty law,” said Binnie, who also serves on the commission. “It’s another one of those unfunded mandates.”

 
 

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