And We Don’t Want to be River Hills

A couple of people have sent this article to Mequon aldermen, congratulating us for making the newspaper. They highlighted a quote from River Hills resident, PR executive and Buffalo Water Beer Company owner Craig Peterson.

Mr. Peterson said “We don’t want to be Mequon.”

Perhaps Mr. Peterson was being cute. I know the Mequon residents who sent the article thought they were being clever. They were pointing out that they do not like apartments (more on that below).

But Mr. Peterson is right. River Hills residents do not want to be Mequon. They shouldn’t. River Hills has its own distinct character. It is a commuter, bedroom village with big homes mostly on five acre lots. It is a nice place, if you like that sort of thing. The village board should keep it that way.

On the other hand, perhaps to Mr. Peterson’s surprise, most of us in Mequon do not want to be River Hills.

Ours is a vibrant community with excellent neighborhoods. That’s right, we have neighborhoods. We don’t only have a patchwork of individual homes (but we have those also for people who want them). We have kids. We have schools and churches. We have great restaurants, nice shops and a theater. We have parks and a pool and nature preserves and farmland and some bicycle lanes. We have community events. And, although (like River Hills) we have a lot of expensive homes, we also have a variety of housing types. We have places to live when we are younger, and places to live when we no longer want a big home.

And we have lower taxes – about $10 per thousand, or 40%, less than River Hills. So, a $500,000 home in Mequon pays about $5,000 less per year in taxes. We like that too.

The article argues that Mequon has traffic. Yes, we have a lot of traffic on Mequon Road and Port Washington Road. However, the last time I checked, River Hills has Brown Deer Road and Good Hope Road, and those two roads also have some traffic. The difference is Mequon residents shop, go to restaurants and work on Mequon’s busy roads. Some even live on those roads. River Hills’ main roads just pass through it. Most of its traffic is not even its own. Yet, everyone in River Hills lives within a mile of its busy roads. Much of Mequon is miles away from Mequon and Port Washington Roads.

I am not arguing that Mequon is better. I am simply arguing that is better for those of us who live in Mequon. I expect River Hills is better for those folks who live there (just as Greenfield, Whitefish Bay, Brown Deer and most other communities are better for their residents). Some people like chocolate ice cream, and some like vanilla.

If I was on the River Hills village board, I would not support the new apartment project. It is not what River Hills is about. However, here in Mequon, we have allowed a limited number of apartments in a limited number of places. They are consistent with Mequon. They are high-end, quality apartments. The most recent development rents its units for $2,000 to $4,000 per month. Most of us do not want Mequon to become a community of apartments. As a percentage, we have appreciably less than most every neighboring community other than River Hills. It will stay that way. And all of the new apartments are in a very small geographic area.

Most people in River Hills do not want to be like Mequon. We understand that. However, most people in Mequon do not want to be like River Hills.

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