Council approves Williams Drive reconstruction bid

The Common Council last week accepted the low bid for a $1.6 million reconstruction of Williams Drive this summer.

The construction contract has been awarded to E&N Hughes of Monroe. The company bid $981,787 for improvements from Page Street to just north of County Hwy. B. The company’s alternative bid of $639,482 is for the balance of improvements to the county highway, including a looped water main under the railroad tracks.

E&N Hughes’ bids were slightly more than engineers had estimated for the project, and were opened on July 15.

The city’s costs were offset by a $321,000 contribution from the towns of Pleasant Springs and Dunkirk.

Planning director Rodney Scheel said the towns contributed to the project because there’s “a complicated mix” of jurisdictions that have some degree of responsibility for the roadway.


Fence still an issue for apartment

Poet Robert Frost once wrote that “good fences make good neighbors” and that sentiment is being put to the test along Hamilton Street.

The city’s Planning Commission has held fast that a fence must be built along the edge of a multifamily apartment building because it was originally part of the approval two years ago. Developer John Peterson thinks the fence is unnecessary as the neighboring property is listed for sale as commercial property.

The Common Council took up the matter Tuesday with a first reading of an ordinance change for the property, but held no discussion on the matter. A second look at the issue is slated for early August.

At the Planning Commission’s monthly meeting July 14, Peterson had sought to make changes to the specific implementation plan for the multifamily lot. Peterson said in documents filed with the city that the landscaping plan approved two years ago was not economically feasible.


Proposed I39-90 work a concern

Rendering courtesy Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Town of Pleasant Springs officials want to be sure proposed improvements to the I39-90/Hwy. N interchange – including the addition of three roundabouts – will be good for businesses in the area.

Three roundabouts proposed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) for a rebuilt Interstate39-90/Hwy. N interchange have Town of Pleasant Springs officials concerned about the potential effect on local businesses.

In an email to the Courier Hub, WisDOT project communication manager Steve Theisen said the interchange work is part of a larger I39/90 expansion project that will extend from Madison about 45 miles to the Illinois state line. He said the 11 interchanges along the corridor have “outdated design features” that contribute to safety concerns.

“By the year 2030, with no corrective action, all sections of I39/90 are expected to operate at unacceptable levels of service, meaning unstable traffic flow and stop-and-go conditions,” he wrote.


KPW developer sees progress

Forward Development Group (FDG), the firm assembling the businesses hoping to build in the proposed Kettle Park West development, has signed purchase agreements with all the parties, the project development manager told the Hub Tuesday.

Dennis Steinkraus said FDG recently completed the purchase agreement with a fourth commercial enterprise. He said the business is “not in a position now to come forward with their name, but we do have a purchase agreement with them.

“It’s more timing on their part as far as when they can announce it,” he said.

Steinkraus also confirmed that FDG has finally been able to provide the city with information needed for a firm to conduct an economic impact analysis of the project. The Common Council on April 8 unanimously selected Maxfield Research Inc. to conduct an economic and fiscal analysis on the project, expected to take four to six weeks to complete.


Legal battle brewing over CARPC budget request

County officials have called out the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) and initiated legal action after the commission recently voted for a significant increase in its 2015 budget that county officials say is against the law.

CARPC, which serves as the regional planning and water quality management planning entity for the county, voted 8-3 for just over $1.3 million in funding for 2015 at its July 10 meeting, a significant increase of around $600,000 from this year’s budget. CARPC is governed by a policy board with 13 appointed commissioners.

In response, the Dane County Board, responsible for funding the commission, last week unanimously approved a resolution deeming the budget request “unreasonable,” laying out the grounds for a legal challenge to what amounts to a 76 percent increase.

County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said the board is in “no position” to add another $600,000 in taxes.


County board votes down radio tower

A proposal to build a radio tower in the Town of Rutland was shot down again last week by county officials.

For the second time in three years, the Dane County Board of Supervisors voted last Thursday not to rezone 15.5 acres of land near Old Stage Road where Tomah-based Magnum Communications wants to erect a 486-foot tower to service Stoughton’s first FM radio station.

In a move that was largely expected, the board backed earlier votes by Town of Rutland leaders and a county committee not to rezone the property owned by long-time area farmers and siblings David Soldwedel and Sue Wollin.

Before the vote, Magnum’s attorney, Michael Screnock, told the board they should send the issue back to the county’s zoning and land regulation committee for a second look. He argued that the denial by town and county officials flouts a 2013 change in state law that prohibits municipalities from refusing new broadcast towers unless they would harm public health or safety.


Commission dissects hospital parking plan

Renderings courtesy Royal Oak and Associates. The City of Stoughton Planning Commission would like to see access to Stoughton Hospital maintained on Ridge Street, left. The commission forwarded their approval of a separate Church Street parking lot expansion near East Main Street.

Stoughton Hospital might not get the parking lot changes it has been hoping for.

The city’s Planning Commission altered some of the proposed plans, including turning a street into a dead-end, at its meeting Monday.

The hospital had asked the city to discontinue part of Ridge Street, which drivers often use to travel through the hospital campus, as part of the remodeling of its parking lot. But that was tempered by the commission after members had concerns about traffic flow and excess vehicles on neighboring roads.

The commission split apart some of the proposals, recommending some items and tabling others. Parts of the plan will come back to the commission next month despite the hospital’s hopes to get started on the project in September.


‘Amend’ will go to voters

Stoughton voters will be asked in November if they support an effort to amend the U.S. Constitution and overturn a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that essentially gave corporations the same rights as citizens.

A referendum will be on the November ballot asking if voters agree that corporations and unions should not have the same rights as individuals and that spending money is not a form of speech. That would mean corporations, unions and other associations would not be subject to protections guaranteed under the First Amendment regarding political speech.


State reps, senators vie for local votes in partisan primary

Perhaps you’ve heard there’s a gubernatorial seat up for grabs in about four months.

While that statewide race will draw many of the headlines leading up to the November election, local seats for the state assembly and senate are also being contested. 

Voters will be able to cast ballots Aug. 12 during the partisan primary election to see who will be on the final ballot come November.

Stoughton area voters will be able to cast votes for Assembly District 43 and Senate District 15.

The towns of Dunkirk and Rutland are covered by A.D. 43. Republicans Herschel Brodkey and Leon L. Hebert are vying for a spot on the November ballot against democrat incumbent Andy Jorgensen.


Upon further review

Former UW football coach Bret Bielema may have moved on long ago for the supposedly greener pastures of Arkansas, but his unsold house in the Town of Dunn is still making local headlines.

Prompted by a neighbor’s complaint about a low assessment earlier this year, the town’s board of review re-set the house’s value last Tuesday, a move that will raise the taxes for the coach who left Madison amongst some controversy in December 2012.

Town of Dunn clerk Cathy Hasslinger said the initial assessment of $809,000 did not include more than 2,000 square feet of finished space on the lower level. Town assessor Dean Peters recommended the assessment be adjusted to $1,338,000, and the board of review voted unanimously to take his advice.