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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Saving the Siepmann Farm House just jumped another hurdle

Blogging, City of Brookfield, Development, History

If you have been following the save the Siepmann Farm House issue at Brookfield's Stonewood Village, you know that back in May, it looked like it would join the scrap heap of Brookfield's historic buildings. In my May 18th post, Stonewood Village's Siepmann farm on chopping block at Tuesday's Common Council meeting, I asked, "...can't we find some way to save the Siepmann farmstead and still do the wedding center?" and then urged that readers contact their aldermen.

The Siepmann Farm Homestead is a good example of a reader suggested blog topic. The morning of May 18th, someone sent me an email regarding moving or razing the Siepmann home. Since I thought it a worthy topic, I blogged about it.


Shortly after that, I took some pictures of Stonewood Village and the house in question and blogged about it again on May 21st : How much to raze Siepmann Home? asking the question is it cheaper for the developer to give the building and $10,000 or raze it? That post prompted a lot of comments--some not too complimentary to me.

But as I chewed on how could the house be saved and still do the wedding center as the developer desired, a thought came to me while replying to a comment: put the connector road in front of the Siepmann home. (Pictured) If I had not been out to the site, I doubt I would have thought about it. (No doubt, the city staff and aldermen who were familiar with Stonewood thought about this too.)

I commented, "...When I was there, it seemed there would be room for the connector road to be built in front of the home? Possibly that could be the solution to saving the home (in place) and still connecting the parking lots? If that frontage road is a violation of set backs, maybe this is where the Common Council could grant a variance?"

I think my exchange with Im Thinkin in the comments was constructive. (Showing that constructive comments can be helpful!) Excerpt from Im Thinkin:

"...The owner can do what he wants with his property. I think the best way to save the farmhouse is by convincing the owner that the house is what makes Stonewood Village unique, not just another strip mall. If the house qualifies for historic registry, the owner could probably get some tax breaks too. The Council vote will give Brookfield residents a little time to speak up about historic preservation. I plan to contact the mayor and my alderman and insist that they approve a plan that doesn't include tearing down an important piece of our history. Maybe a variance, as Kyle suggests, is in order here. Once this farmhouse is torn down, it's lost forever. Let's speak up before it's too late."

I contacted my alderwomen on May 21st, asking if there could be a compromise.

My alderwoman Lisa Mellone made some phone calls and further nudged the Siepmann into the saving direction rather than the razing. Along with a combination of publicity, the Elmbrook Historical Society, and city staff, Dan Ertl I am told in particular, and of course, developer 4S worked together to get us to this point. Brookfieldnow also made it the topic of a comment poll.

Saving the Siepmann, by allowing a variance for the connector road to run in front of the home, just won unanimous approval by the Brookfield Board of Appeals on July 10th.

Yesterday, July 13th, Brookfield's Plan Commission recommended approval of the new frontage road placement by a vote of 5-2. Brookfield's Common Council will vote on the new design on July 21st at City Hall. The meeting starts at 7:45pm.

I know some Stonewood Village neighbors are concerned that saving the Siepmann will lead to increased density at the Wedding Center. I don't blame them. They are still licking their wounds over Capitol Heights. So far, increased density is not an issue with developer 4S.

Ultimately, I hope the council will approve the new design and keep the Siepmann home in place. Again, I urge you to contact your alderman regarding the Siepmann decision.

Links: 

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Brookfield7, Fairly Conservative, BetterBrookfield, Vicki McKenna, Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, Randy Melchert, Mark Levin, The Heritage Foundation, CNS News

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