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Brookfield City News

Cindy moved to Brookfield in 1994 with her husband and three children in tow. It's been a very interesting seventeen years.

Brookfield's mysterious rezoning on Plan Commission agenda tonight.

From the city's website:

2. PLAN COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION: Request of the Plan Commission c/o of the Department of Community Development for approval of a rezoning of city owned property located at 1000 S. Moorland Road (former fire center 3), and privately owned properties located at 900 S. Moorland Road and vacant lot directly east thereof (tax key 1147-995-001) from “O&LB” Office and Limited Business and “MSO” Modified Suburban Overlay to “B-2” General Business and “MSO” Modified Suburban Overlay. (SW1/4 of Sec 35) – DE **Requires Common Council Approval**

What does all that mean? The laws in Wisconsin say a notice must be very clear and accurately describe the anticipated action. We can see the city wants to rezone something for more density taking it from O&LB to B-2 plus some gobbledygook called an MSO overlay. But just what do they want to rezone?

We get an address for the city property, but no tax key. We get a tax key for a vacant lot. We get "privately owned properties" with an address, but no tax identification.

I have to say this notice caught my eye for several reasons. First, it is really, really unusual for the city to rezone "privately owned" property without an owner standing before them. In fact, it was always my understanding that to request a rezoning that increased use, the property owner or a stakeholder had to have standing in the request. Clearly, the "privately owned" property is not to be represented tonight. We don't even know what it is. 

Next, not all of the properties are clearly identified with TAX ID numbers. The number is a standard that has been used for years in identifying properties exactly for the Plan Commission.

Also, if the city was downzoning - taking away value through zoning - they would need to have done it through a neighborhood plan of some kind. And in fact, it's also kind of unusual for a rezoning to take place to increase intensity without a neighborhood plan of some kind.

Finally, I know of this "privately owned" property. The owner was a great contributor to former Mayor Speaker's campaign coffers. He's been trying to develop this plot forever. I'm out of the country so I can't yet tell you if he's been as generous to Mayor Ponto.

The property was rezoned from residential (think your next door neighbor) to O&LB in 2010. Now it's going to B-2 with talk of a drive through for a bank or a coffee shop.

From the staff report that will be referenced at tonight's meeting:

Mr. Ertl replied a low intensity restaurant use is a permitted use, such as Panera Bread. Dine-in restaurants are permitted also, such as North Star Bistro, Chili’s or Outback. He stated that lack of parking is an issue for a potential developer as well. He felt that just to permit low-intensity restaurant is back to where we started in 2010. Mr. Ertl stated we should include a range of permitted restaurants, such as an ice cream or coffee shop. A multi-tenant retail building seems attractive right now, except for fast food. 

I know Brookfield residents are terribly lackadaisical about following the antics of city hall, but just remember: This could be next door to you. 

Without proper notice.

Residential to a restaurant in two steps over three years.

Without the property owner even being on record.

My time elected sharpened my senses on this kind of thing, and I smell a rat.

One last detail, those initials at the end? DE? That's Dan Ertl. It means the Director of Community Development is handling this rezoning himself. 

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