Waukesha Alderman Reiland says Meijer vote wasn't easy
Common Council approves rezoning of land for project to move forward
Andy Reiland's vote on rezoning the land to make way for the proposed Meijer development in Waukesha was expected.
The alderman has been one of its main supporters since the project was first introduced many months ago.
But that didn't mean it was an easy vote.
"It's an emotional topic," Reiland said at last week's Common Council meeting. "It's probably one of the most difficult decisions I've had to face as an alderman."
He feels this way because he knows how much neighbors of the proposed development at East Sunset Drive and Tenny Avenue are opposed to the 192,000-square-foot supercenter.
Reiland has met with these residents personally to hear their concerns. Which were repeated last week during more than two hours of public comment.
However, with Common Council rezoning 36 acres of land to a B-5 Community Business Planned Unit Development from T-1 zoning 12-3, Reiland said "it proves we're open for business."
But it's a business that will experience pushback from neighbors.
List of concerns
Paul Komlodi is one of these individuals.
He is one of many neighbors who has been vehemently against the development voicing safety, environmental, noise, pollution concerns. He said his home will decrease in value and that the area is oversaturated with this type of business.
Moreover, he and others say the store is invading an area surrounded by residential properties. Opponents said other locations in the city are best suited for a big-box store project that it has been rushed by the city.
The Meijer development was first proposed in the spring and preliminary approvals were given by the Plan Commission and updates have been made. Updates include adding heavy landscaping around the store and altering an access way.
City Planner Jennifer Andrews added that of all the properties in Waukesha, the more than 30-acre site works best for Meijer and the city because it's the largest area of vacant land left within the city's borders. The store and the gas station will make up 53 percent of the site, she added.
Komlodi said Meijer is being "forced into the market and opponents are planning boycotts, more petitions and lawsuits that will "affect Meijer's financial status."
Petition not enough
A protest petition against the rezoning was given to the city. As a result of the petition, a three-quarters vote — or 12 of the 15 Common Council members — was needed for the rezoning to pass.
Those living within 100 feet of the site were eligible to sign the petition.
Many neighbors thought the petition would gain more council support. Four aldermen, (Cory and Eric Payne, Steve Johnson and Kathleen Cummings), voted against amending the land use plan from residential to commercial at the Aug. 20 Common Council meeting.
Amending the land use plan was needed for the rezoning vote to take place.
"The fight was sucked out of (the neighbors), but they're still trying," Cummings said. "They're in the last round. Somebody's got to represent their view and I'm going to be that person."
Eric Payne and Johnson continued to vote with Cummings in favor of residents opposing the rezone, but Cory Payne went with the majority voting for the rezone.
"(Development) is inevitable," Cory Payne said. "We have a company that is respected and are willing to work to get someone on that side of Sunset."
Support those in favor
When Common Council again voted to move the project forward, residents said they feel their voices are being dismissed.
"To say we're not listening, that's not a true statement," Council President Terry Thieme said. "I've heard every word. We have to represent our district first. There's been very positive feedback within my district."
Alderwoman Joan Francoeur and Alderman Roger Patton agreed.
Francoeur said Common Council members were given cards by 500 city residents who support the Meijer development.
"I'm concerned about the majority of people in favor," Patton said. "I would hate to see it lost."
Those in favor of Meijer said 200 jobs the project will bring should not be overlooked.
Coming to Wisconsin
After the rezoning vote, the Common Council also approved preliminary plans for a planned unit development (PUD) review for the project. Council members can bring referrals to the Plan Commission before final approval.
Meijer representatives said many of their stores are near residential areas and they have and will continue to address the neighbors' concerns.
In addition to Waukesha, Meijer has stores planned in Grafton, Wauwatosa, Sussex, Kenosha and most recently Oak Creek.
"We don't just grow for the sake of growth," said Brian Randall, Meijer's attorney. "We're a company that has focused on customer service and is known for innovation and we will deliver on that."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Town of Waukesha in search of a new attorney
- Female driver crashes vehicle into Waukesha Memorial Hospital
- Waukesha man faces 10 counts of child porn possession
- Waukesha County will likely oppose arena tax
- Apartment complex proposed
- Waukesha man charged in motorcyclist's death
- Downtown Waukesha's logo could see a makeover
- City of Waukesha will have a new attorney next spring
- City of Waukesha's mayoral race has three candidates so far
- Local dance team tops in the region