Plan Commission Approves Building Plan for Cross Lutheran Church in Bishops Bay

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Cameron Bren

MIDDLETON–The Middleton Plan Commission approved an amendment to the building plan for a neighborhood within Bishops Bay to make room for Cross Lutheran Church. The church, which has been holding service in the Bishops Bay clubhouse since 2016, has struggled to find a site for construction within Middleton that provides a municipal sewer connection. 

Bishops Bay developer T. Wall Enterprises representative Taylor Brengel said the revised building plan relocates 13 residential lots to the Town of Westport making room for Cross Lutheran Church and School. 

City Planner and Zoning Administrator Mark Opitz explained that the plan commission reviewed the proposal for the church site last fall and was supportive. He noted the Westport Town Board approved the amendment relocating the 13 lots. 

Brengel explained that the intention is to move four acres of the Bishops Bay development from Middleton to Westport in order to maintain the same level of density in Westport.

Director of Planning and Community Development Abby Attoun said the change would reduce the density on the Middleton side.

“You would run into that same issue where there was a maximum dwelling units per acre and now you have four fewer acres,” Attoun said.

Brengel said he consulted with engineers who determined that would not be the case. 

“Even if we cram as many lots as possible in the Reserved Hill [neighborhood] we still don’t hit the density allowed in the master development plan,” Brengel said. 

Brengel added that a higher density in the Middleton portion of the development aligns with what city staff have indicated. 

“Based on our discussions with Middleton staff the goal right now in Reserve Hill is to have higher density so we can keep the lots more affordable so we can provide more affordable housing for Middleton,” Brengel said.

Plan Commission member Kurt Paulsen pointed out that the current proposal was for a general implementation plan (GIP) whereas specific number of units and density are laid out in the second part of the building plan, the specific implementation plan (SIP).

“Like a lot of the revisions and tweaks to the whole community plan it will come down to math, which is how many units are allowed, what’s the density and that is usually at the SIP stage when we count up the number of lots you propose in the Reserved Hill [neighborhood],” Paulsen said.

Impervious area and stormwater management requirements will be addressed during SIP review for each neighborhood.

Plan Commission member Kitty Tyson asked if there would be enough space for the proposed athletics field and play space in the third phase of the development for Cross church.

Pastor Joel Brandt said phase three was conceptual at this time and would not be built out for 10 years. Tyson said planning now impacts the site 10 years in the future.

“The athletic field for the entire project should be laid out in the SIP for phase one,” Tyson said. 

Paulsen said since the church is part of the Bishops Bay development it will need to match the overall open space requirements in the master development plan. Opitz noted that the MDP allows 60 percent for cluster residential use and 80 percent for commerce with up to 100 percent in a main street environment.

The church will also need to submit a rezoning request.

The plan commission unanimously voted to recommend approval to the Joint Zoning Committee and Common Council of the GIP amendment with the 13 contingencies outlined by Town of Westport and to add the condition that the layout and dimensions of the athletic field area be shown as part of SIP for phase one of the church project.

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