Plan Commission Tables Decision on North End Development

The Ephraim Plan Commission will take more time to consider the potential ramifications of a proposal to build 23 single-family residences on 15 acres on the village’s north end. 

The commission tabled discussion of the proposal from Chris Schmelz and Keith Garot to build homes ranging from 1,773 square feet to 2,267 square feet at 10471 Townline Road, behind the Spa at Sacred Grounds. The commission will take it up during its July 26 meeting.

“We tabled it to the next meeting to take some time to wrap our heads around what this really means,” said Village President Mike McCutcheon. 

The 15 acres are split between two zoning districts. Eight units are proposed for 10 acres zoned Rural Residential, and 15 units are proposed on a five-acre portion zoned Commercial North. 

For the residentially zoned portion of the lot, the standard for residential development is a single residence per two-acre lot. With conditional use approval of a Planned Residential Development, a property owner is able to cluster residences through condominium ownership on larger lots at a density up to 1.5 times the density normally allowed. For the commercial portion of the lot, Garot is applying for conditional use for multi-family use. 

“This is the first time anyone has applied to use this zoning for a development like this,” McCutcheon said. “This is really brand-new territory for Ephraim. The ordinance has been on the books for a while, but no one has used it, and we need to get this right.”

The commission is also concerned about the possibility of the homes becoming short-term rentals rather than homes for residents.

“The hope would be that they would be full-time residents – move in with some kids and live there,” McCutcheon said. “But even with assurances that the condo association rules would bar short-term rentals, a condo association can always vote to change that in the future. We also haven’t really heard from the neighbors about what they think about this yet.”

STR Ordinance on the Docket

The village board got its first read of a proposed short-term-rental ordinance during a special meeting June 14. The board tabled discussion of the ordinance until its July meeting to take more time to review the ordinance and seek input. 

Administrator Brent Bristol said the board received a lot of feedback from residents and property owners about the ordinance, including suggestions to make penalties for violations consistent with those for nuisance ordinance, with penalties in the $250-$500 range per offense. The draft ordinance carries penalties of up to $1,000 per offense for violating provisions of the ordinance for the first offense. Penalties rise to $2,000 for second offense, and up to $5,000 for subsequent offenses. 

Anderson Dock

The village’s ad hoc Capital Projects Committee continues to evaluate potential repairs to Anderson Dock and the Hardy Gallery building. Bristol said cost estimates and proposals for those projects, as well as lighting and paths on the north end of the village, are expected in July and August. Baseline cost estimates for additions to the maintenance garage, fire station and administrative buildings are expected in August. 

Deliberations Continue on Off-premise Wine Sales

Bristol expects the village board to set a special meeting with its attorney present to draft language to allow for the issuance of a Class A liquor license to sell intoxicating beverages for off-premise consumption. 

Monique McClean, owner of Pearl Wine Cottage on Church Street, would like to expand her business to sell wine in a retail setting similar to grocery stores, gas stations and specialty shops. To do so, she must obtain a Class A liquor license, which would also allow her to sell hard liquor, which she has said she has no interest in doing. 

Under Wisconsin beverage laws, a retailer can obtain a license to sell only beer for off-premise consumption, but to sell wine, a retailer must obtain the liquor license. There is not a separate license to sell only wine.

For the village, giving McClean that license would open the door to others who do want to sell liquor, putting trustees in a tough spot. A survey distributed by the village garnered 220 responses, with the majority in favor of allowing the license.