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Rule changes could open Village area to development

Feb. 18, 2014

Changes proposed to the zoning code for the Village area business district would allow greater flexibility for potential development.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Common Council approved scheduling a neighborhood meeting on the proposal, though a date has not been set.

Community Development Director Dan Ertl, who brought the idea to the Plan Commission earlier this month, said loosening some of the zoning restrictions on the Village area, north of the railroad tracks on Brookfield Road, could attract more business.

"We've been extremely pleased with the initiative that property owners and business owners have taken in the Village over the past five years, and we want to create a process that allows them to continue to do so in a more effective manner," Ertl said. "We hope there will be a continued reinvestment in our Village."

The proposed changes would allow larger lot sizes — a maximum of 75,000 square feet, up from the current 45,000 square feet — and buildings to be built farther from the road. Ertl said the former requirements were designed for a more old-fashioned Main Street feel, one he thinks could still be retained while allowing more flexibility for developers.

"The staff's decided that due to the length of the Village area, only being essentially two blocks long north of the tracks, and combined with all the other code requirements, we were maybe forcing people to do things that are preventing people from investing," Ertl said.

Other changes would allow a greater variety of developments to be built. While buildings along Brookfield Road in the business district are currently required to have retail on the first floor, a proposed amendment would allow food services, barbers and beauty salons as well.

Streets off Brookfield Road also would be affected. At the moment, buildings on 186th Street can only be mixed-use or office space, and buildings on Hoffman Avenue and Pleasant Street are limited to only mixed-use development. The proposal would allow offices and multifamily residences on all three streets.

One of the amendments proposed is in response to an idea for an antique store at Pleasant Street and Brookfield Road. The owner of an older Victorian home has asked to convert an old carriage house to an antique shop, Ertl said. The amendment would allow for retail, specialty retail or antique stores in "accessory" buildings, like the carriage house.

Neighbors of the business district will receive mailed invitations to an information meeting when it is scheduled, and all residents will be able to comment on the proposal at a public hearing before any action is taken.

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