Nearly 30 Thomson Township residents recently issued a petition expressing their dissent over the delay in the paving of two roads due to an upcoming zoning project that will allow for the construction of new housing complexes.
The proposal for the zoning change was discussed during the planning and zoning commission March 16 in a public hearing heavily attended by residents expressing concerns with the project.
These concerns led to the commission setting a limit of seven duplex-style townhomes to be built on the property, with a maximum of 14 units each.
The zoning change request was approved unanimously by the planning and zoning commission, and later passed unanimously by the town board March 18.
The upcoming zoning project has led to the paving of the surrounding roads — East Riverside and Serenity Way — to be pushed back from 2021 until 2022.
On March 18, a letter written by Esko resident Lynnette Shannon and a petition signed by 27 residents were filed with the town board, requesting the immediate paving of the two roads regardless of other zoning projects.
“(D)elaying the paving of East Riverside and Serenity Roads to docs on these construction projects negates the quality of life and priorities of the residents who own property on East Riverside and Serenity Roads,” the letter read.
The letter asserted that the township had promised paving on all Esko roads to be completed in 2018 under a comprehensive zoning plan, and that the incoming housing complexes were not beneficial to the area.
“There are a large number of small children on our roads that frequently ride bikes or go for walks,” the letter read. “Our schools are already crowded and our roads are currently poorly maintained.”
Prior to the zoning changes, the town engineer estimated the cost for paving Riverside and Serenity Roads to be $150,000, and a feasibility study determined the project was likely to be addressed in 2021, according to the letter.
The now extending timeline in light of other projects has led to frustration among residents waiting for the roads to be paved.
“There’s a lot of prep work that needs to be done,” Road Utility and Maintenance Supervisor Logan Saline said.
According to Saline, utilities in the area need to be brought up to code before paving can begin.
The letter concluded by asking the town board to honor its commitment to quality of life for residents.
"The Thomson Town Board has broken our trust and the members of the Thomson Town Board have demonstrated that they do not have the best interest for our families," it read.
The board agreed to begin the initial steps of the project, with the roads set to be paved in early 2022.
They accepted the petition and plan to communicate their plans with concerned residents in the near future.