by BETH ALTENA
Developer Marcel Burgler was on site Friday, August 24 as the foundations of the first home for the Tamarack Run condominium were poured on Monroe Street in downtown Rockford. He noted, “It is set in concrete now, literally.”
The sales will begin as the first of two one-and-a-half story buildings are completed. Forty-nine units will be built on the seven-acre site on the banks of Rum Creek following a long saga of reversals and lawsuits over the development.
The property is located at 202 N Monroe Street and received final approval by Rockford’s City Council on February 12 of this year. As of Monday, August 27, the stakes of the foundations can be seen and multiple construction vehicles were on site. According to Burgler, contamination on the property has been removed and remediation is concluded.
The article the Squire ran following the regular meeting that month is included, in part, as follows:
Rockford City Council members heard some angry comments from residents opposed to the Tamarack Run condominium development on Monroe Street in downtown Rockford before unanimously voting to approve the project.
After addressing some other business, the council first heard from the senior architect of the project, Mark Miller of Prein & Newhof, who apologized to those who had been present at the Rockford Planning Commission meeting last month. He said, with minor changes, the presentation was the same. The change was to adjust the stormwater management to accommodate three to four inches of water rather than just one inch in a rain event.
“The site is low and wooded on the southern leg with wetlands and floodplains.” He described the property as L shaped broken down for descriptive purposes into four units, all under one ownership, as required for applying for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) designation. He said the development would eventually include seven ranch dwellings, fifteen townhome units and 27 units in loft dwellings.
He said the plan conforms with the city’s Master Plan, adopted in 2002 and with the North End Sub Area Plan (NESAP) adopted in in 2011. He said the NESAP suggested a senior living development, perhaps combined with adjacent properties to be an aging in place community.
He described the building and architecture as designed to follow NESAP guidelines, including the use of natural stone, pillars and arched rooflines.
Homes from this area, according to 2016 data, sell for between $99,000 to $180,000. Sales of the condos are expected to be in the range of $240,000 to $280,000 for the loft units, $250,000 to $280,000 for the ranch homes and $340,000 to $390,000 for the townhomes.
According to Miller, two traffic studies were conducted, one by the City of Rockford, one by Progressive A&E, and show there are 450 to 500 cars on weekends on Monroe Street, 750 to 800 on weekdays. The study showed that traffic can continue to operate safely and efficiently with the additional traffic from the development up to the capacity of 1,500 to 2,000.
Parking is calculated by dwellings, and exceeds the number required by the PUD process, Miller stated.
The development will include four stormwater and biotreatment cells designed to clean and cool stormwater. He said the plan was reviewed with Rockford’s environmental consultants and Trout Unlimited who like the plan.
Miller said that the Rockford Planning Commission, during their meeting on February 16 of this year, had asked the developer to work out a plan to handle more than the one inch of rainwater. He said the plans now are to prepare for a four to five inch rain event, runoff from a 25year storm.
The development will be built in three phases, Miller said. Phase One will be two ranch homes and two townhomes for four total units and a 24 foot wide street. Phase Two will be five ranch homes and thirteen townhomes. Phase Three will be the 27 units of the loft dwelling. The project will be served by public water and sewer, consistent with the requirements of the NESAP and the City’s Master Plan. The requirements for open space are fifteen percent, this development has 47.3 percent open space, which does not include yards.
Miller said from suggestions of reviewing the plans, the yards of homes were taken out of the measurement for open space, the concern about lack of connectivity in the open space was considered. “We felt that’s covered by Rum Creek walkways and sidewalks to Memorial Park,” Miller stated. “We have not yet completed deed restrictions and covenants,” which he said was normal for this stage of the planning. He concluded his presentation by repeating all of the requirements for a PUD, which he said are all covered.
City Planner Paul LeBlanc spoke next. “As you know, a PUD is very different from other zoning, such as commercial or residential. It’s very prescriptive. A PUD is designed deliberately to provide flexibility.” He said PUDs can help when a variety of uses are desired that might not be permitted in other zoning.
“Unlike others, there are lots of restrictions and the ability to modify restrictions. Before the PUD can apply, there are five qualifying conditions in terms of size, public utilities, etc. This meets them all.” He said there were a long list of other standards and criteria to go through, but in his opinion all the standard ones are met or can be met. He said even if council approves the project, there will be other meetings to approve other items, such as landscaping, lighting and signage, among others.
He said the sub area plan specifically suggested a senior living complex, and if that use was proposed, it would likely have more units than the condo development. He touched on the storm water consideration and said again, this would be on the final site development. He said landscaping, where possible, should be preserved to the extent possible.
“One area that contains vegetation is where the development will occur, where the loft will be built. Some trees will be removed, but not all. The whole southern leg will be retained in its current condition.” Lighting will be designed to minimize glare. Utilities, such as air conditioners and trash receptacles, will be screened. Emergency access is all accessible. He continued ticking off requirements that will be met, according to the presented plan.
“The proposed project appears to satisfy or can satisfy all requirements.”
Burgler said it is good to have activity begin on the construction of the first phase of the development. He said a walkway bordering Rum Creek provides a wooded buffer to the water and as many trees as possible have been left on the site. The timeline of the phases will depend upon the sales of the homes.