Town of Brookfield backs special taxing district for Corners
Fears about traffic, pollution don't sway commission's vote
The town of Brookfield Plan Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution supporting the project plan for a tax-incremental financing district designed to be the economic engine for the community's future growth.
The vote came just six days after a crowded public hearing in which proponents and opponents passionately stated their case for the taxing authority and the anticipated growth, including the Corners retail and residential development just southeast of Bluemound and Barker roads.
Before the project goes to a final vote by a joint review board comprised of representatives of local taxing authorities Nov. 27, it will be reviewed and voted on by the town's Community Development Authority and Board. The joint review board has final authority.
A stark contrast to the Sept. 26 meeting attended by more than 100 residents and other interested parties, the same room at Tuesday's joint Plan Commission and Town Board meeting was nearly empty.
Before they voted, commissioners stated their support.
"It appears that all the elements are in place, including the boundaries and the financial pieces," said Ryan Sentelle, who said the project on the mostly vacant land was an "ideal project."
Eric Halbur said he wanted to address a comment made at the public hearing in which someone characterized the town as a graying community.
"If we are going to move forward, then we need to do this," Halbur said. "It will help bring in future generations."
Len Smeltzer referred to another public hearing complaint intimating that the project would cause air and noise pollution.
"I don't believe that there will be the pollution problems that were stated," Smeltzer said. "The way this is supposed to be built with a parking structure below ground and buildings on top of it, you won't have those problems."
Smeltzer related that he lived in similar-style housing in 1977 when he served in the military and was stationed in Germany.
"It was the same concept, and it was fine," he said.
One town resident opposing the project addressed the Town Board after the Plan Commission vote. Owen Durigan, a 40-year resident, said he thought the way the TIF district was being presented and approved outside the electorate violated due process.
"It's unfair because we don't get to vote on it," Durigan said before his public comments. He appealed to the commissioners to consider the fact that "we are not just in a recession, we are in a depression."
He said while others at last week's public hearing objected to the project and the taxing district on the basis of increased traffic and pollution, his main concern is that the economy is still not strong enough to support the initiative.
Town Board supervisors thanked Durigan, but offered no further response.
The project plans for the tax-incremental district have been supported by Brookfield-based financial planning firm Ehler's & Associates.
Senior Financial Advisor Michael Harrigan has helped produce a plan that supports the town's partnership with Marcus Corp., developer of the Corners.
The plan projects the specified district's property values will increase from $66 million to $209 million. Marcus will guarantee $187 million, effectively covering the plan's principal and interest.
Anchoring the project will be a Von Maur department store. It would be the Iowa-based retailer's first foray into the Milwaukee-area market. That development, slated to be completed by the last quarter of 2014, is expected to attract local, state and national retailers in what town and Marcus officials say would be a major economic boon for the area.
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