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Brookfield council advances plans for Lilly Preserve apartment project

Aug. 20, 2014

The Brookfield Common Council approved a step forward in Phelan Development's plans for Lilly Preserve, a 77-unit apartment complex to be located on the northwest corner of Lilly Road and Burleigh Road, just south of Brookfield East High School.

Along with a new office building to be proposed for 13785 W. North Ave., it was one of two projects considered by council Tuesday night.

The Lilly Preserve project was proposed more than a year ago. The city's Plan Commission was unanimous in its approval of the project last week, but the council was more divided.

The council was tasked with approving both the city's future land use to allow for greater density on the property, as well as rezoning the site to accommodate Phelan's project.

Alderman Christopher Blackburn questioned the appropriateness of modifying the land use to allow for the development's 77 units.

"There's nothing special about this. I don't see any difference between this development and any other recent development," Blackburn said. "I don't see it as a good policy in the city to allow or change this kind of development when it's not fiscally responsible, nor is there any justification as far as providing overall benefit to the city."

Varied opinions

Alderman Gary Mahkorn spoke in favor of the project, noting the attention that has been given to the project by the Plan Commission.

"The Plan Commission has taken quite a bit of time vetting this matter. This went through several iterations, all of the concerns were legitimately addressed," Mahkorn said.

Mahkorn noted that there is a considerable buffer zone between Lilly Preserve and any residences in the immediate area, citing Brookfield East High School to the north, wetlands to the west, Brookfield Christian Reformed Church to the south, and a congregation home to the east.

Alderwoman Renee Lowerr raised concerns with the potential environmental effects of the project, citing the Elmbrook Nature Center, located behind Brookfield East High School.

"One teacher (commented) that due to people adding fertilizer on to their grass, they are impacting the wetlands. What are going to be the effects of this big apartment complex on the wetlands that are going to affect future children attending Elmbrook schools and their trips down to the nature center?" Lowerr said.

City of Brookfield Director of Community Development Dan Ertl said that the project is required to contain all of its storm water on site so that runoff is not increased from current conditions.

"The wetlands (to) the west are protected," Ertl said.

All three items were approved by the council on a vote of 7 to 5 with council members Blackburn, Lowerr, Bill Carnell, Jerry Mellone, and Bob Reddin voting against them.

Sean Phelan, President of Phelan Development was pleased with the council's decisions and noted that a timeline for the project is still being determined.

Laying the groundwork

Rezoning and land use modification were also the topics of discussion surrounding a new office building proposed for 13785 W. North Ave.

The project being developed by Wahlgren Schwenn Architects, Engineers and General Contractors was met with scrutiny at its public hearing in July; however, it received high marks from the Plan Commission last week.

The original, primary issue raised by city officials and nearby neighbors had been the plan to place the structure on the eastern side of the property, thus placing it in close proximity to residences and making for potential invasions of privacy.

Wahlgren Schwenn returned last week with an alternative plan to place the building on the western side of the lot. The council was tasked with considering zoning and land use changes, but specific plans for the building's placement and other details were to be sent before another public hearing.

Blackburn spoke against approval of any actions and moved to table the issue.

"I think these items are premature to be talking about until we know what the final plan is," Blackburn said.

The motion to table failed by a 6 to 6 vote.

Alderman Scott Berg spoke in favor of moving forward with the actions presented before the council Tuesday night, noting that approval would only be laying the groundwork for the future of a property that has been vacant for some time.

"This has to do with the types of buildings, but it's not approving anything," Berg said. "We will have time to review that."

Alderman Rick Owen pointed out that Brookfield has sought counsel in the Village of Elm Grove's Plan Commission because the property in question neighbors Elm Grove residents.

"What's there isn't going to go anywhere. You're not going to build two homes, it's not going to happen," Owen said. "If you want to have an empty property, then vote against it. The Plan Commissions both in Brookfield and Elm Grove agree this isn't going to be used (as residential)."

Three items in connection with the topic were approved by 9 to 3 tallies with Blackburn, Lowerr, and Carnell casting the dissenting votes.

A public hearing on the project was approved and will be scheduled in the weeks to come.

The Common Council also discussed the future of waste removal in the City of Brookfield. No action was taken.

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