After defeating plans to fill parts of an old sand and gravel pit southeast of Burleigh and Lilly roads to allow for a city park and multifamily housing, the community group Brookfield Residents Against the Dump is rallying behind a new proposal for apartment buildings that would not include dumping fill.
Mark Regal, a leader with B.R.A.D. who owns Regal Crest Village Apartments, which is adjacent to the property, said he accepted an offer to purchase the land on the contingency that he can get a development agreement with the city to build 120 luxury apartment units.
Regal would not say exactly when he accepted the offer from The Quarry Group Joint Venture, where Jim Sileno is managing partner, other than that it was sometime this month. He has 90 days to close on the offer, and hopes to have a development agreement with the city before then.
Regal had talked to Sileno about buying the land in the past, but the property seemed difficult to develop because of the quarry, he said. The threat of the noise and pollution generated by trucks going past Regal Crest to dump fill made him reconsider.
"We're just trying to resolve this whole wild thing that happened here and move forward," Regal said. "It's something we don't really need to take on, but it makes sense and hopefully the neighborhood will agree to this rather than the five-year trucking situation."
If a development agreement comes through, Regal said, construction could start within a year. Half the apartment units could be built in a first phase, which could take about 18 months, and the second phase could take another year.
Mayor open to discussion
Because of the potential trucking involved, Regal and B.R.A.D. protested the previous proposal for the land, under which Super Excavators would have brought in clean fill from the Zoo Interchange project to level out part of the quarry, then sell part of the land to Siepmann Group so it could build multifamily housing and part to the city for a park.
In an effort to stop Super Excavator's plan, B.R.A.D. submitted more than 3,600 signatures Oct. 18 in support of an ordinance that would require a referendum before the city could purchase the property for a park.
The Common Council approved the referendum, with several aldermen saying they voted for it because of the demand from the community, despite having doubts that it would lead to a better solution. They warned that if Super Excavators backed out, another company could come in and propose even more dumping.
But with Regal getting the offer to buy the land and proposing zero fill, B.R.A.D.'s plan seems to be working.
Mayor Steve Ponto said Dec. 13 he had not yet talked to Regal about the new proposal, but he would be open to discussing it.
"We'll be very happy to discuss any proposals that people have on this," Ponto said. "The city really wants to respect the concerns of the people in the immediate area and do what's best for the community as a whole."
Park still possible
Regal said he's not sure whether some of the land could eventually be a city park, although he is open to the idea of one as long as it doesn't require fill.
"We don't feel it needs to be a full-blown park," he said. "The city had some big ideas that required major grading, and we think that's not really needed."
He said if there is public access to the land, parts should remain wild. Some of it could be left as it is, with viewing points around it.
Ponto said he doesn't want to preclude any proposal, but the city would have to make sure the area was safe before allowing a park there.
Joining forces at the capitol
Ponto has continually expressed frustration that the city could not prevent Super Excavators from bringing fill to the site if it bought the property. A state law prevents municipalities from stopping companies from dumping fill from transportation sites in areas where the property owners agree to it.
Two state representatives from Brookfield, Republicans Dale Kooyenga and Rob Hutton, have introduced a bill that would allow municipalities to stop fill operations if there are more than 500 residents living within a one-mile radius of the disposal site.
Ponto, as well as aldermen Bill Carnell and Daniel Sutton, who represent the district that includes the Sileno property, plan to testify for the bill Dec. 17.
B.R.A.D. members also plan to attend.
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