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Zoning district to help businesses re-invest

June 6, 2012

Dozens of businesses in Brookfield's northeast corridor are a step closer to possible re-investment after a public hearing before the Common Council on the new Northeast Industrial Zoning District.

Approved by the council earlier this year, the district would essentially grandfather in a number of businesses that, for various reasons, don't conform to modern zoning codes in Brookfield.

Director of Economic Development Dan Ertl said many of the buildings in this area, north of Lisbon Road and west of 124th street, were built before Brookfield had sophisticated building codes, or even code of any kind.

Ertl says 46 businesses currently fall into nonconforming status, whereas under this new NEI district, 43 of them would be conforming.

In 2006, the state passed a law loosening restrictions on nonconforming buildings, but Brookfield has yet to update its own code to the state standards.

That law prevents local communities from placing specific monetary restrictions on re-investment of nonconforming structures, a plan aimed at encouraging businesses that don't conform to still remain active in trying to grow.

"We don't want businesses, in these economic times, to go through additional costs," Alderwoman Renee Lowerr said.

This NEI district has not been applied to any area, although it was approved earlier this year with the intention of tagging this set of businesses. Brookfield's Plan Commission will still have to approve the placement of the zoning district in this area, a recommendation the commission will send to the Common Council.

The Common Council will have final approval, a vote it could take up as early as June 18.

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