Mill Valley Estates is Latest Project in Orfordville
November 25, 2020
The village of Orfordville is growing in leaps and bounds. New developments are all around town including a new subdivision – the first in about 20 years.
“If you’re not growing, you are dying,” said Village Board President Gary Phillips. “Orfordville has worked extremely hard to improve her image and make this an inviting town to live and invest in.”
Despite initial hesitation from some residents and board members, Phillips and the entire village board approved a 21-acre subdivision at the corner of State Highway 213 and County Road K on the east edge of town. The subdivision will have 36 single family homes and four multi-family homes.
One of the most exciting aspects of the project for Phillips is that the developer is a Parkview High School graduate. Zach Knutson, managing partner at Next Generation Construction of Beloit and 2003 graduate of Parkview High School, is developing the site along with his business partners Nathan Apfelbeck and Tim Knutson.
“I’m extremely proud that a Parkview grad is the developer for this project,” Phillips said. “It should show our kids that anything is possible.”
Zach Knutson, a pragmatic visionary, is thrilled about the opportunity he found in Orfordville as well as the economic impacts of the project. New homeowners will make purchases and spend their recreation time in town, he said. That money will stay local.
“Long-term, I know this project is going to be the largest economic impact to Orfordville in a very long time,” Knutson said.
He also noted the additional tax base as an economic benefit, which will help the village in multiple ways. Phillips agrees and is appreciative of the added annual tax revenue of $125,000. The village needs the extra funds, he said.
“This is a project that will generate revenue and help with infrastructure repairs that are much needed in the community,” Phillips said.
Knutson knows it’s risky to invest so heavily in a small town that has limited industry to draw people in. But he hopes to attract families working in Madison, Janesville and Beloit.
“The risk is not having amenities to draw people,” he said. “Some will decide to pay an extra $50,000 to live in a nearby, larger community.”
He and the village board members are doing their best to market the Parkview School District to prospective families. Knutson is president of the school board; he noted all the new class offerings available through a partnership with Blackhawk Technical College, something he said wasn’t available when he was in school. Also not the case during his high school years was the district being rated number one in Rock and Green counties.
“If you come into town with an open mind and you see good schools, beautiful views and no drama, you can argue that you have a better investment than if you were to go to a larger community,” he said. “And you pay less in Orfordville.”
But the project isn’t solely about money. It’s about people, trust, keeping open minds, and working together as a community to improve the quality of life for everyone in town.
“We know Zach is invested in our community and it’s a good feeling to be able to work with somebody like that,” said Beth Schmidt, economic development committee chair on the village board. “Not many towns have their school board president as the town developer but he has experience and we know him.”
Schmidt said the primary challenge of the project for the village board was finding a way to help Knutson with the financing of the project without raising village residents’ taxes. The board knew there was a need in town for more housing, so all the trustees worked hard to look at the big picture and see the whole investment, she said. She and the board are excited about and thankful for the project.
“I just feel like God placed Zach here for us,” she said.
Village trustee Chuck Boyce agrees with Schmidt that the project came at just the right time to fulfill a need and give business to a Parkview graduate. He expects continued growth throughout the village over the next year and beyond, he said.
“This is a great project,” Boyce said. “I really think this is going to be just the beginning.”
Boyce said the added population and infrastructure shouldn’t be a problem for the village. The public works department is up for the job of plowing a couple extra roads and maintaining infrastructure. The village is also in the process of hiring another full-time police officer.
“For a municipality to rest on what it already has to offer and not provide anything new to spur growth is foolish,” he said. “I’m glad we have someone who is interested in helping our village grow.”