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Residents discuss former fire station site

Development plan raises concerns about flooding, car exhaust

Feb. 13, 2013

The city of Brookfield's Plan Commission hosted a neighborhood information meeting Tuesday for residents who will be affected by the rezoning and possible retail development of the block where former fire station No. 3 sits.

The three properties at the northeast corner of Moorland Road and Hackberry Lane are proposed to be rezoned from office and limited business district to "B-2" general business district.

Two of the properties are owned by Terry and Michael Briscoe, and the fire station is owned by the city.

The proposed zoning change is an effort to increase commercial development on the block, with hopes for a single-story retail center with parking on Moorland Road and one access driveway to Hackberry Lane. No traffic would be directed onto the residential streets to the east.

Dan Ertl, director of community development, collected comments from neighbors ahead of a public hearing on the rezoning proposal scheduled for Feb. 19.

Ertl told the eight residents who attended the meeting that a developer has expressed serious interest in the property, but could not give further details as a formal application has yet to be filed.

The prospective retail center would be similar to Brookfield Commons, at Bluemound and Moorland roads, with small stores and possibly a restaurant.

Restrictions would be in place to protect the neighbors, such as a prohibition against taverns, drive-thrus and auto repair shops. A 25-foot or longer landscaped buffer would be required along the east side of the block.

The Plan Commission has suggested relaxing the no drive-thru rule to allow a single lane for a coffee shop, bank or sandwich shop.

Vivian Rad, a neighboring resident, voiced concerns about exhaust from cars sitting in a drive-thru.

"There are families with new babies in the area," Rad said. "I'm concerned about the air quality with exhaust from cars in the drive-thru."

One resident wanted to know why the city doesn't turn the land into a park.

Ertl said legally, the city can't block land development.

"We can't restrict land from development unless it's wetland, floodplain or a city park," Ertl said. "When the fire station moved, the city planned to dispose of the property. A park would not be fiscally prudent for this area."

Storm water management has improved since past flooding events, Ertl added.

Jon Thoresen, principal for Commercial Property Associates, a potential developer of the site, assured the residents that new businesses would feed off of existing traffic in the area.

"We're not looking to drive more traffic into the area," Thoresen said. "We're looking to catch drivers already heading toward the freeway."

Alderwomen Renee Lowerr and Lisa Mellone attended the meeting, took input and gave suggestions, and said they would make sure that whatever is done will benefit both the property and neighboring residents.

"I remember when Park Bank was constructed behind my house, I was devastated," Mellone said. "But I learned that commercial property can be a good neighbor. That's why we have these meetings, to work harmoniously."

Next Step

WHAT: Common Council to vote on rezoning of former Fire Station No. 3 site and two neighboring lots

WHEN: 7:45 p.m. March 19

WHERE: City Hall, 2000 N. Calhoun Road

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