Close to 20 people showed up to the Cuba City planning commission meeting Monday night. The meeting was held to allow residents to speak their mind over a change in zoning from residential to business for a parcel of land in the 200 block of South Jackson Street.
The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. and acting mayor Jim Bousley informed those in attendance they would get a chance to spend two to three minutes expressing their comments on the empty lot on South Jackson Street next to the Pit, which is owned by the City of Cuba City.
The lot in question is being sought by Dr. Matt and Molly Andrews, Cuba City. Dr. Andrews is the owner of Cuba City Family Dental, which is located in the former Dr. Bob Schroeder dental office on Main Street in Cuba City. Matt and Molly Andrews were unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment; however, Matt's father, Gary, presented the colored blueprint for the proposed dental office his son and daughter-in-law would like to build on the empty lot.
Andrews said the building will be large enough to house the current practice as well as another dentist. "As far as traffic is concerned, Matt's business is open 16 days a month, Monday through Thursday," Andrews said. "We don't believe this would add any significant traffic to this area," Andrews continued and said Sister Georgianna Dorsey, Father David Flanagan and Mary Schneider have all been contacted and they support the project. "We understand there is a valid concern about the runoff," Andrews said. "We hope Matt and Molly and the city can work together on this issue." Andrews said Matt and Molly are both interested in staying in Cuba City as they have a vested interest since they both went to school here.
Rich Hinderman who lives directly across from the proposed building site touched on the sentimental value of the land. "Just about everybody who grew up in Cuba City has used that lot," Hinderman said. Thousands of kids have played there over the years. Everybody uses that lot."
Hinderman also touched on the correct term for the lot. "Vancant lot is not the correct term," Hinderman said. "It's always been a playground for the community. This is going to benefit one family who is going to have a business there versus all the families who currently use the lot. When is it going to end? What if someone wants to come and build something at Veterans Park, are we going to let them?"
Gail McWilliams is also a proponent for the lot remaining as is. "There is a grant out there to get free park equipment," McWilliams said. "Kids use this every day, it's not going to go to waste."
Cuba City resident, Bob Summers spoke on behalf of the Andrews'. "I had Matt and Molly in class and I know their parents and they are the kind of people I want to be around," Summers said. "They are the type of people who are going to be here for the duration and raise their family here."
Summers spoke to Hinderman on his statistics for the use of the park. "I don't know where you got your statistics; however, you can't make your decisions on feelings," Summers said. "I played there myself when I was in high school. There is a lot of sentimental value, but you know what, I drive past that place a lot and in my opinion from what I see, it's not used that much. We have 4-5 other parks within five blocks for kids to play."
Hinderman said there are three other parks in Cuba City that are named parks. "I live right across from there and see what goes on there," Hinderman said. "In the summer it gets used a lot. When we built there, we could have begged someone to let us purchase that lot, but I didn't even think of buying that lot."
Local business owner, Tim Nolan said there is no doubt about the fact the lot has been there forever. "Matt is a great guy, he has a great family and he's going to offer jobs," Nolan said. "I know that there are others out there knocking on his door and I don't want to lose this guy (to some other town)."
Andrews said it's easy to get emotional. "Matt would love to be on Main Street, but to be next to Cardin's and Medical Associates is a good fit," Andrew said. "I don't want to threaten, but Matt said Shullsburg has offered him a lot for $2."
McWilliams said there isn't a need for another empty building on Main Street. "What about Wizard Computers building," McWilliams said. "It's beautiful and empty and it would be perfect."
Kevin Casey, owner of Casey Funeral Home said he spoke to Matt on the possibility of the Wizard Computer building. "Matt said it's not large enough for what he wants to do," Casey said. "For what he wants, he has to make sure it's big enough. Things seem to work (out) and on Matt's behalf, you're talking a lot of revenue for the city. I see kids playing hoops, and from what I understand he's not taking out the basketball court."
The largest issue is the runoff from the proposed building towards the homes across from the empty lot. Cuba City director of public works, Gary Droessler said the issue of runoff has been discussed. "We have talked to the city engineer and we have talked to Matt Andrews about the additional items and design some things within the parking lot and the landscaping to curb the run off," Droessler said. "There still will be some run off, but we've done some homework and we think we have that problem fixed."
After nearly 35 minutes of public discussion, the plan commission adjourned the meeting and waited until 8 p.m. to make a recommendation to the Cuba City Common Council. The commission voted unanimously in favor of the motion to rezone the lot from residential to business with a contingency Matt and his engineer develop a runoff and erosion control plan acceptable to the city. The Cuba City Common Council will now have the chance to accept or reject the rezoning recommendation at their November 2 regular city council meeting.