Town of Brookfield's Safro Toyota denied access to city water, sewer
Owners feel caught in a political tug of war between town and city
A Water and Sewer Board meeting made waves Tuesday as town of Brookfield business owners were left stranded after a request for the city to provide water and sewer service to the business was denied by the city.
Jack Safro Toyota, located in the town of Brookfield at 20445 W. Capitol Drive, asked the city of Brookfield to provide municipal water and sewer service to the dealership in its efforts to construct a new store and upgrade its current one.
The dealership could be serviced by the town, but Town Administrator Rick Czopp said in a letter to Mayor Steve Ponto in December that the cost of extending municipal water and sanitary service from the town's Brookfield Sanitary District facilities would be cost prohibitive.
A closer, more feasible option, Czopp wrote, would be to connect to the city's mains and sanitary sewer through an intergovernmental agreement.
The city would approve all construction plans and would be reimbursed for all costs associated with the construction and inspection of the sanitary sewer and water mains.
In the request, Czopp also referenced a similar agreement the town approved for the city in 2011, which allowed the city to build 186 multifamily units as part of the Sutter Creek development, connecting the development to the town's municipal water and sanitary sewer service.
"You will recall that we entered into this agreement as an accommodation to both the city and the developer as the cost of extending water and sewer service to the property would have been cost prohibitive," Czopp wrote.
City says no
Ponto responded to Czopp in January, citing his reasons for advising the Water and Sewer Board to deny the request.
Ponto said the Safro properties are located in a portion of the town that cannot be serviced by the town, and the properties were specifically excluded from the town's incorporation petition, in recognition that the land should become part of the city.
"Clearly, it would make no sense to take any action in furtherance of the status quo in this area of the town, when the town itself has recognized that these lands will be better served by the town's municipal neighbors," Ponto wrote.
Town Chairman Keith Henderson responded to the mayor's rejection in January, and said he was more than disappointed with the mayor's decision.
"This property and other properties in the Capitol Drive corridor were not included in the incorporation petition because they are physically separated, by a substantial difference, from the core area of the territory to be incorporated," Henderson wrote.
Henderson, Jeanne Safro, and her husband Gary DiPilato spoke at Tuesday's meeting.
"I would ask that you put the interest of public above politics and approve this request just as the town of Brookfield has approved similar requests made by your board in the past," Henderson said. "Your response is hardly the type of cooperation that property owners in both the town and city can and should expect."
The board, citing the mayor's recommendation, unanimously denied the claim.
"This request before the board is not whether Safro can get sewer and water, the request is if the city will be willing to provide sewer and water to this property as it resides in the town," Director of Public Works Tom Grisa said.
Caught in the middle
Safro and DiPilato said they are confused as to why the city would deny their request.
"We would like to see the spirit of cooperation here," DiPilato said. "We want to expand our business locally and preserve the 140 jobs at Safro."
Safro said the dealership's carwash is forced to use recycled water, and that the manufacturer has mandated the facility upgrade to a water and sewer service instead of using a septic connection.
"We're not asking for something above and beyond what the people in this community have," DiPilato told the board. "I haven't heard one person give me a good reason why we can't get sewer and water."
"We feel like we are caught in a tussle between the town and city," Safro said. "We just want to be able to grow in an area we've served for close to 45 years."
Safro and DiPilato said they will evaluate their options to see how they can maintain their business at its current location.
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