By Dave Fidlin


A zoning designation could be created as 2020 unfolds to help foster a new trend in single-family housing, a Whitewater official confirmed recently.

Chris Munz-Pritchard, neighborhood services director and city planner, said she is in the early stages of looking into creating an overlay district in residential areas of Whitewater to accommodate the growing trend of developing pocket neighborhoods.

Unlike traditional single-family residential developments, pocket neighborhoods have variances that could include central courtyard areas that become focal points to the cluster of homes surrounding it.

The concept is slowly emerging in Wisconsin and other areas of the Midwest but has been widely used in other regions of the U.S., including such Pacific Northwest states as Washington and Oregon.

Munz-Pritchard, who mentioned the overlay district proposal at a Community Development Authority meeting Dec. 19, pointed to some of the possible attributes of such a project that could mean less in upfront costs for the property owner.

“There’s less land, there’s less infrastructure,” Munz-Pritchard said.

The pocket neighborhood concept was broached during a wider-ranging dive into a recently completed study about affordable housing in Whitewater.

Munz-Pritchard also discussed the report with members of the Plan and Architectural Review Commission in December.

Plans call for Munz-Pritchard and the CDA continuing discussions of what city officials can do to foster affordable housing options when the appointed body holds its next meeting later this month.

At a cursory level, CDA Chairman Al Stanek said he was pleased with some of the information included in the report, which will be compiled annually, per state statute.

“I think this accomplishes some of what I was harping on a year ago,” said Stanek, who frequently has expressed a desire to zero in on single-family housing options across the city.

From his vantage point, Stanek said she was pleased with some of the next steps that are attached to the report, including a call to set goals as a forward-thinking exercise.

“You can’t accomplish anything if you don’t set goals,” Stanek said.

Munz-Pritchard and City Manager Cameron Clapper said another outgrowth of the report is the creation of a Whitewater Housing Committee. It remains uncertain who will sit on the newly formed group, though there could be some tie-in through the CDA.

More details on the committee’s composition are expected to come to light in the near future.

Clapper at the Dec. 19 meeting also provided a brief update on the city’s ongoing search for a new director of the CDA and other economic development functions within the city.

“We’ve had contact with a few different communities,” Clapper said before mentioning the Madison suburbs of Sun Prairie and Verona as municipalities that have been reached as resources for future planning for the position.

Clapper said he also has been reaching out to officials in Walworth and Jefferson counties to continue to look at the possible duties and responsibilities that could be tied into the position.

Plans call for more discussion of the CDA position at the next meeting this month.


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