A public hearing regarding the future of th edevelopment known as Plaza 173 saw residents directly north of the property expressing a multitude of concerns.
The proposed development would call for an expansion of around 16,000 square feet to the east and west of Plaza 173's structure at 17300 W. Bluemound Road. Other modifications would include a resurfacing of the parking lot to accommodate more guests. Additionally, HSA Commercial Inc. hopes to build a parking lot in the rear of the building, to the north, to accommodate employee parking and loading.
Thus far, HSA Commercial has announced that Fresh Time, a grocery store that focuses on produce and organic specialties, is set to join the strip as a new tenant. Kesslers Diamonds, which sits in a separate building, and Men's Warehouse are likely to remain in their current homes. HSA hopes to announce more tenants in the next two-to-three months.
Change in zoning
Currently, the northernmost 130 feet of the property is identified by the city for medium density housing. The development seeks to change that to accommodate high density shopping or services. The land would also have to be rezoned to accommodate business.
The northward development was the catalyst for most of the debate at Tuesday's public hearing. The planned parking lot would extend up to 30 feet away from condominiums located on W. Wisconsin Ave.
A trio of residents from those condos had a variety of concerns regarding the parking lot and the expansion of loading dock facilities.
"I hear a lot of dumpsters and a lot of semis coming, usually at 5 a.m. and then going through the afternoon," Nancy Kormanik said.
HSA Commercial managing member and project manager Timothy Blum noted that semis will enter for loading purposes to Plaza 173 via N. Calhoun Road. Under current project designs, the trucks would exit through a planned new access point between Plaza 173 and Brownstones Shopping Center next door.
Close to property line
Resident Brian Quitzow noted that vehicles exiting through that potential route would pass within three feet of the property line. Quitzow also expressed concerns with the proximity of the parking lot to the condominiums, which would be as close as 30 feet away to the north and only 10 feet to the west.
Condo resident and part-owner Ron Wink joined Quitzow in expressing concern about the tree frontage between the parking lot and the residences.
"I'm going to have all kinds of loud cars and motorcycles in the back part (of Plaza 173)," Wink said. "All of my units have two bedrooms facing there."
Wink noted that the current collection of trees between Plaza 173 and the condos provides a satisfactory screen, but the proposed parking, despite HSA's efforts to keep as many trees as possible, would still result in a vast reduction of Wink's buffer.
Working with neighbors
Quitzow seconded Wink in expressing gratitude for HSA's efforts thus far to work with the neighbors, but he was skeptical of the company's specific plans.
"It's hard for residents to know (what is planned), because it is changing. I guess my recommendation would be that we get to see those things before things move to Plan Commission," Quitzow said. "Hold up for a few weeks or a month for HSA to get things written down to address concerns."
As indicated by Wink, HSA has made plans to resolve some of the issues listed by residents. Those remedies include the construction of an eight-foot fence to provide an additional screen, along with retaining trees and new plantings between the condos and the parking lot. Additionally, plans call for enclosed structures to be used as loading areas.
"Totally enclosed. The screening that we're proposing does come fairly high, 42 inches, (and) it's a depressed dock," Blum said. "Trucks are declining such that they're dock high. It's a major investment to install these types of enclosures. We think it's important to minimize the impact on the residents."
Loading behind Plaza 173 is currently not shielded, which Blum says has contributed to the vacancies on the property.
"What's currently being done is untenable," Blum said.
Blum also noted that HSA hopes to change the name of the property. "Plaza 173? I think we can do better," he said.
No action is taken at public hearings. The Plan Commission will take it up on Sept. 8.
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