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Colfax approves 100-home residential development

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — If all goes according to plan, construction could soon begin on new homes in a residential development in Colfax that could eventually include more than 100 new homes.

The Colfax Village Board approved a residential development concept for a portion of the Jim and Mary Schindler farm on Railroad Avenue at the September 22 meeting.

Following a closed session at the end of the meeting, the Colfax Village Board approved buying the Schindler property for residential development for $15,000 per acre.

The village board did not specify a certain number of acres that would be purchased because the property must still be surveyed.

Instead of a residential development company developing the subdivision, the Village of Colfax will be the developer that is buying and selling lots.

During meetings of the Colfax Plan Commission, which is working on updating the village’s Smart Growth comprehensive plan, commission members noted that Colfax has experienced exceptionally slow residential growth over the past several decades because there are no residential lots available for building new houses.

State law requires that Smart Growth plans be updated once every ten years.

According to the concept developed by Cedar Corporation, the residential development will occur in three phases.

The concept includes a pond in the field by the railroad tracks across Dunn Street from Ackerman Dairy, green space, and a bike trail around the east perimeter of the residential development running east from Dunn Street parallel to the railroad tracks and then south to South Boundary Line Road.

The first phase of the development will include six single-family residential lots on the east side of Dunn Street.

The pond, noted Patrick Beilfuss of Cedar Corporation, will be approximately two acres.

Single and Multi-family

All together, the residential development is planned to include 72 percent single-family homes and 28 percent multi-family homes, Beilfuss said.

The entire concept includes 85 single-family homes, 16 four-plex units (four buildings with four apartments) and 16 twin-homes (eight twin homes with two houses in each unit), he said.

The village will have complete control and will be able to oversee a variety development aspects such as the quality of the materials used and the type of landscaping that is required, Beilfuss said.

The first six lots will be 90 feet wide by 160 feet deep — or between 14,000 and 15,000 square feet, he noted.

An acre contains 43,560 square feet, so the first lots will be about one-third of an acre in size.

After Phase 2, which includes three more single-family lots and two larger lots, the village will need to install more infrastructure for sewer and water, Beilfuss said.

The concept plan includes a street between Phase 1 and Phase 2.

Beilfuss recommended that the village develop the pond, greenspace and bike trails at the beginning of the development because those kinds of amenities will help sell the residential lots.

Beilfuss said he would not recommend waiting 20 years — or however long it takes to build the residential development — to then put in the pond, greenspace and bike trails.

The residential concept includes swales and rain gardens in the backyards of the lots to deal with stormwater runoff.

The village can create four lots in five years with a Certified Survey Map, Beilfuss said.

If the development proceeds more quickly, then the village would need a site plan, he said.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the three-phase residential development concept.

Jeremy Klukas, village trustee, abstained from voting.

Village president Scott Gunnufson and village trustees Mark Halpin, Carey Davis, Beverly Schauer, Annie Schieber, and Susan Olson voted in favor of the motion.


In a related matter, the Colfax Village Board discussed the village’s residential zoning code and the minimum lot sizes.

Residential 1 in the zoning code has a minimum lot size of 18,000 square feet, Beilfuss said.

Such a large minimum lot size is encouraging sprawl, he said.

Beilfuss recommended a 12,000 square-foot-minimum lot size.

The current zoning code also includes a three-foot setback, and Beilfuss said he would recommend a setback of six feet to ten feet.

“Three feet is too tight,” he said, noting that the change in the zoning code would require a public hearing before the plan commission.

The Colfax Village Board approved sending the recommendation for R1 zoning with a minimum lot size of 12,000 square feet and setbacks of six feet to the Colfax Plan Commission.