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Brookfield Plan Commission takes a look at two developments

July 16, 2014

Two potential developments in the City of Brookfield heard concerns and feedback from both the Common Council and the public during a pair of public hearings Tuesday night.

The first hearing saw a minor concern aired about Lilly Preserve, the 77-unit luxury apartment project planned for the northwest corner of Lilly and Burleigh roads.

Parties from both the Common Council and the public wondered how the development might affect traffic at an intersection that already finds itself backed up at times during the day. Alderwoman Lisa Mellone asked if a traffic study was done in connection with the development and citizen Greg Sather expressed his concerns.

"Traffic does get very hectic, and it seems 77 units is a huge volume of apartments," Sather said.

City of Brookfield Director of Public Works Tom Grisa said a traffic study was not necessary.

"Traffic engineers (identify) the number of trips that can be expected from various land uses and, based on that information, if it generates more than 100 trips per hour, a full imapct study is required," Grisa said. "This did not meet that threshold."

Blair Williams, president of WiRED Properties, cited the difference between an apartment complex and other types of development.

"What happens with apartments is that trips are not necessarily happening at the same time. In apartments you have folks in all cross sections in their life cycle," Williams said. "Some are working, some aren't working. Some work first shift, some work second shift."

Positive reaction

Beyond worries about traffic, feedback from the council was generally positive. WiRED Properties and Phelan Development came before the city last year with plans for a 96-unit development. The City of Brookfield's Plan Commission expressed concerns with a handful of aspects of the plan at that time.

"The most important theme throughout this process is that we've received constructive input all along the process from the Plan Commission and staff," Phelan Development president Sean Phelan said. "We took that, rethought our plan, modified it, and, I think, ultimately what it has done is brought us to a better project."

No action is taken at a public hearing. The project will be discussed by municipal officials at the next Plan Commission meeting, on Aug. 11, where the commission will consider rezoning and land use amendments in order to make a multi-family development possible.

Negative reaction

Alderman Christopher Blackburn spoke against the approval of those things next month, citing the population density increase that such alterations would cause.

"This is not a net positive from a purely economic standpoint," Blackburn said. "I don't like the density increase and I don't see a community benefit."

A second plan

In Tuesday's second public hearing, Marian Mleczko's preliminary plans for a two-story office building at 13785 W. North Ave. brought out concerns from several aldermen.

The plans by Wahlgren Schwenn Architects, Engineers and General Contractors, calls for a 13,287 square-foot building that would see a lot currently zoned for single-family residences changed to commercial use.

The office building would sit on the eastern side of the lot to serve as a screen for neighbors to the east from traffic and activity in the parking lot.

However, that thought from senior project architect Jeffrey Janetka, combined with the presence of windows on the second floor of the proposed building, was viewed critically by some officials.

"I was at the informational meeting and talked to the resident directly to the east. A primary concern is that when they bought their house, they checked that the lot next to them was (zoned) single-family," Blackburn said. "They put a swimming pool in. Now you could have a row of two-story windows where people are going to be looking down into your pool."

Alderman Bill Carnell also said the privacy of nearby residents may be invaded.

"You're constantly thinking 'Who's looking at me out of those windows?'" Carnell said. "I'm not sure this is a good mix for that area."

Some nearby business

The area in question, near the intersections of North Ave. and Lilly Road, is primarily residential, but features a handful of businesses. But several aldermen expressed concern with the specific design of Mleczko's proposed development, particularly its height.

"I lived behind commercial property, and (the first) level was like a screen," council member Renee Lowerr said. "But I'm having concern with the two levels."

"As we're developing things, we try to make them compatible with the area. Johnson Bank is the only other two-story building (in the area), but it stands pretty alone," Carnell said. "Everything else is one story. This just doesn't seem to be compatible with the area."

Height defended

Janetka defended the plans, noting that the building would generally operate only during regular office hours and would therefore not offer the level of privacy invasion that officials were worried about.

At the end of the night, Janetka expressed a steadfast willingness to work with the city and continue to move forward to make the plan agreeable to all.

"I think we're definitely going to see a commercial building here and I think it will be a two-story building," Janetka said. "We're definitely willing to work with staff."

Like Lilly Preserve, the Mleczko office building will be further discussed Aug. 11 by the Plan Commission.

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