By Paul Anschutz
I have written this letter to the plan commission and am sharing as a Letter To The Editor, for this is the course of action which needs to transpire due the fact public participation has been taken away from community members. This is a very important topic for reasons stated in my letter. I encourage anyone in the community with concerns to also write letters to committee members and staff, and share them as I have as a Letter To The Editor, for this is our only avenue of communication UNTIL PUBLIC COMMENT IS RESTORED AT OUR CITY MEETINGS.
To: Chairman Wiesner and Plan Commission Members
The Sturgeon Bay Plan Commission is currently considering a 64 unit planned unit development, Tall Pines Estate on Egg Harbor Road (the old Kruger Property). I attended a Sturgeon Bay Finance Committee meeting on December 26th, not knowing that the Sturgeon Bay Plan Commission already had an initial meeting on Dec. 20th concerning the 64 unit development. At the SB Finance Committee meeting on the 26th, during Public Comment, I stated that the City Of Sturgeon Bay has a limited number of parcels left for development within the city proper. I then asked that we as a city through our elected officials, appointed committee members and staff need to work in a positive way towards a walkable community by creating an ordinance requiring new developers to be responsible for installing sidewalks in their development and for connecting to surrounding neighborhoods.
Back in August at the Plan Commission’s monthly meeting I presented the need for sidewalks at the Amity Field property development which would create connectivity to Egg Harbor Road. I also stated that sidewalks are an integral part of development for communities to consider during initial planning phases, also that the City Of Sturgeon Bay needs in its toolbox an ordinance that requires sidewalks for developers. Fast forward to December 20th there was no public participation allowed on the agenda item concerning the new Tall Pines Estate 64 unit development.
Prior to the SB Finance Committee meeting on the 26th, I spoke with Bob Starr who sits on the plan commission and asked what his thoughts on requiring sidewalks for new developments were. He stated he, “needed to weigh both sides.” I really believe the time has come, seeing that we are about to develop a very important piece of property next to Egg Harbor road where sidewalks have made our community much more multi-modal friendly. I stated these reasons for sidewalks during the finance committee meeting where I specifically asked for an ordinance change.
The following points make the argument for requiring planned walkable communities:
1. Sidewalks provide for safer routes for pedestrians to enjoy walking or jogging and can encourage those healthy activities among city residents.
2. Sidewalks and connected, well-maintained pedestrian networks allow citizens the ability to safely and conveniently patronize local shops, businesses, and restaurants, increase property values and will promote tourism.
3. Walking and bicycling can encourage fewer short automobile trips, reducing emissions, while providing inexpensive opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to stay socially connected and engaged and to stay fit.
4. Communities and their downtowns that are walkable are capturing a greater share of tourist dollars, as visitors are interested in experiencing community life. Visitors and residents alike feel a greater sense of community pride.
Mayor Jim Schmitt of Green Bay said this on sidewalk installations. “We as a city are obligated to provide a safe place to walk. It is part of running a city or municipality. It’s expensive, but if you can get health and safety out of it, it’s a pretty good investment.”
Also see SIDEWALKS Fact Sheet from AARP Walkable and Livable Communities Institute