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Soerens Ford looks to expand its building

A view of the proposed expansion to the Soerens Ford dealership, looking northwest.

A view of the proposed expansion to the Soerens Ford dealership, looking northwest. Photo By Perspective Design, Inc. (submitted rendering)

May 7, 2014

Plans for a nearly 20,000-square-foot building addition at the Soerens Ford car dealership at Capitol Drive and Brookfield Road will return to the City of Brookfield Plan Commission for further review next month.

The common council on Tuesday held a public hearing about the proposed expansion, which requires some variations under the city code primarily due to the business's location at 18900 W. Capitol Drive and a necessary reduction in building setback. It did not take any action on the request.

Community Development Director Dan Ertl explained that any expansion to an auto dealership along that section of Capitol Drive requires a special exception to the city's zoning code, as a result of the Capitol Drive corridor study's efforts to control the expansion of auto-related uses in that area.

Another exception also is required to reduce the building setback along Brookfield Road from 100 feet to 50 feet, which would be necessary to allow the expansion of the building to the east, Ertl added.

According to plans submitted by Soerens, the expansion would bring the total building footprint to just over 50,000 square feet. The addition would include large truck service bays, a service drive-in, car wash, vehicle cleaning and prep center, and re-built showroom.

In its preliminary review of the plans, the plan commission was mainly concerned with enhancing the appearance of the proposed building addition through modifications to the service door entrance visible from Brookfield Road and the use of additional masonry materials, Ertl said. It also wanted to ensure an adequate landscaping buffer between the neighborhood to the north and the rear of the business.

Input provided by neighboring property owners also reflected concerns about the adequacy of the landscaping being proposed.

"From our standpoint, any low-growing shrubs or ground-cover really isn't going to have any impact," said Craig Caliendo, president and owner of Kings Way Homes. "We'd like to see some trees. It doesn't have to be a wall of green, but something to break up the sightline, not only of the building but of the parking area."

Project architect Peter Ogorek explained during the public hearing that in order to address the fact that homes to the north of the property are elevated on a hill, Soerens is planning to use taller evergreen and deciduous trees, as opposed to shrubs, to create the screening effect desired.

Aside from landscaping, Alderman Scott Berg expressed concerns about allowing a setback reduction along Brookfield Road, due to the owners' decision several years ago to sell off additional property that was once available at the site.

Although Ertl acknowledged in response that the building will be located closer to Brookfield Road, along which many residents drive, he noted that the uses opposite of where the expansion would occur are commercial in nature, as opposed to residential. Further, Ogorek told the common council that the need for a setback reduction along Brookfield Road is not related to the past sale of property to the west of the business.

Berg questioned whether the proposal upholds city planning principles to develop properties to their highest and best use, suggesting that the city might be going out of its way to preserve a car dealership where another type of business might be more ideal.

However, Ertl stressed, the longstanding operation of a car dealership at that location probably trumps any reasonable expectation that the land use there is going to change.

"The Capitol Drive study did not say that we should replace an auto use with another use," Ertl said.

Aldermen and residents indicated they were happy with the aesthetic changes being proposed for the building to address plan commission concerns, expressing support for the project overall.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: plan commission consideration of proposed expansion of Soerens Ford, 18900 W. Capitol Drive

WHEN: Monday, June 9

WHERE: City Hall, 2000 N. Calhoun Road

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