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Brookfield Plan Commission receptive to previously criticized office project

Aug. 12, 2014

A project that had stirred up some controversy at a public hearing last month returned to the city of Brookfield's Plan Commission Monday night with a revamped proposal.

Owner Marian Mleczko and Wahlgren Schwenn Architects, Engineers and General Contractors presented a new plan Monday night for their proposed office building at 13785 West North Ave. The project would require the land to be rezoned from residential to local business.

The issue that led to significant discussion at a public hearing for the project on July 15 was the proposed placement of the building itself on the lot. Wahlgren Schwenn originally proposed that the structure be on the east side of the lot so as to serve as a screen for neighboring residences from parking lot activity. However, some aldermen and citizens alike expressed concern with the potential for residents' to feel a lack of privacy.

Following that meeting, Wahlgren Schwenn met with Aldermen Bill Carnell and Dan Sutton, as well as city staff, to address the concerns.

Monday night, senior project architect Jeffery Janetka returned with a revamped plan to place the building in the northwest corner of the lot rather than on the east side as was previously proposed.

"We're pleased to bring this to the table again," Janetka said. "We feel we've come and made a number of different responses to all the different committees and public hearings and we feel strongly that the building will present itself very well."

Another hearing

The altered plan for the building's placement would require another public hearing in order to receive feedback from residents on the new proposal.

City of Brookfield Director of Community Development Dan Ertl and other city staff recommended to the Plan Commission Monday night that commissioners approve recommendations for the land use amendment and rezoning steps, and call for another public hearing to address the changes.

Responses from the Plan Commission were entirely positive.

"It's commendable that you're attempting to make alternations to meet some of the objections," Alderman Rick Owen said. "I had no problems with your first plan, but if you feel that this will work as well, then by all means make the changes."

Aldermen Gary Mahkorn and Mark Nelson echoed their colleague's sentiments, complimenting the project as an improvement for the neighborhood and calling either option agreeable.

"We viewed it as a pick-your-poison," Janetka said. "You can either have the building as a buffer (for the parking lot), or if you view the building as an obstruction, we understand that."

Commissioners concurred on the importance of moving forward with one option rather than keeping Wahlgren Schwenn and Mleczko in limbo between them.

"Pick one or the other," Commissioner Greg Kost said. "I think either solution will work fine."

Other issues addressed

Ertl and City of Brookfield Engineer Jeff Chase recommended that the commission move forward with the option brought forth Monday night, noting that not only the building's location was addessed in the new plan, but other issues as well.

"In addition to the objections of the neighbors, there were issues with utility availability, drainage, and storm water management that are accommodated in Plan B," Chase said.

The Plan Commission gave unanimous approval to both staff recommendations. The land use amendment and rezoning will be forwarded to the Common Council for approval next Tuesday. A public hearing for the newly proposed plan for the design of the building will be scheduled. Ertl expects that hearing to take place in either September or October.

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