Grass Roots: Not so fast, neighborhood group tells Erdman property developer

2011-08-11T09:30:00Z 2013-12-30T11:25:00Z Grass Roots: Not so fast, neighborhood group tells Erdman property developerPAT SCHNEIDER | The Capital Times | pschneider@madison.com madison.com

The Spring Harbor Neighborhood Association is telling the developer of University Crossing, the proposed $100 million mixed-use redevelopment of 14 acres at University Avenue and Whitney Way, that it can't back the project until it gets more information and time to review it.

Specifically, the neighbors want information on traffic projections and storm water management plans, a commitment on monitoring of contaminants during construction and clarification on options for tax increment financing.

"Until we see the results of these studies, we feel the development should not be approved by the city," says Herman Felstehausen, a Spring Harbor resident and professor emeritus in urban and environmental planning at UW-Madison.

Can Krupp General Contractors of Madison, prospective developers of the property, meet the neighborhood association's terms? Even if Krupp president and CEO Paul Lenhart is willing, it could be tough for the neighborhood association, already waiting for an overdue traffic study, to complete its assessment on the timetable set up by the developers.

They are banking on an Oct. 4 approval by the Madison City Council in order to allow project anchor UW Health to move into its new Digestive Clinic by the end of 2012.

"I think the schedule, under the best of circumstances, is very tight," Felstehausen told me.

He serves on a neighborhood committee reviewing the redevelopment proposal, which also includes a six-story hotel, retail space and apartments. Felstehausen was among some 40 residents at a meeting Wednesday called to discuss concerns about the impact of redevelopment on the former industrial site. The issues are groundwater quality and how storm water runoff from the project would affect nearby Lake Mendota.

Those concerns are widely shared in a neighborhood where natural springs once fed Spring Harbor on the lake, recalled resident Kaianna Obee, who grew up there. "The water table impacts so many things here," she said.

Spring Harbor resident Mickey Kienitz organized the meeting, and attributed the good turnout to a growing neighborhood awareness of the rushed review the proposal is getting. "People are seeing this exceptional pace that doesn't consider environmental and health implications," said Kienitz.

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