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Dunkin' Donuts seeks annexation into the City of Waukesha

Town chairman not happy with potential loses

Oct. 8, 2013

Dunkin' Donuts tried in the Town of Waukesha, but the development ultimately stalled.

Its representatives, however, haven't moved on from their proposed location on Sunset Drive.

They have moved on from town jurisdiction and are now looking to come into the City of Waukesha as the owner of the outlot sent an annexation petition request to Mayor Jeff Scrima Sept. 27.

In addition, the owner of the St. Vincent de Paul of Waukesha County thrift store, S30W24836 Sunset Drive, is looking to annex into the city. The property is on 6.78 acres.

Community Development Specialist Jeff Fortin said the joint petition has been sent to the state.

"We'll wait for the state to comment and see what concerns there are before it comes to the Plan Commission," said Fortin, who explained the state reviews all annexation requests first.

After the Dunkin' Donuts development, S30 W24836 Sunset Drive, was first brought to the town in February, it got pushback from local neighbors due to traffic and safety concerns.

But the main issue was with a potential drive-through at the location.

The Town Board approved the 5,040-square-foot, four-tenant retail building at its meeting in March with a drive-through window on the west side based on confirmation and allowance from Waukesha County officials that there are not any restrictions of a drive-through on that property.

At that March meeting and in the days after, Jim Radke, owner of Le Caffe Bistro, S30 W24896 Sunset Drive Suite 101, who isn't allowed a drive-through at his location, questioned this pending drive-through and contacted Waukesha County Planning and Zoning Manager Jason Fruth.

Fruth looked through zoning conditions and realized that restriction was still in place. Dunkin' Donuts officials had said they wouldn't build a new shop without a drive-through.

Town of Waukesha chairman John Marek blames the previous town board for not knowing these rules.

"I don't like," Marek said of the annexation, while adding that a restriction of a second entrance way off Prairie also has existed for decades. "I'm incredibly upset that the previous board was so incompetent that they allowed this to go as far as they did. You had town residents telling town board members the ordinances."

However, Dunkin' Donuts in July looked to rezone the property to remove the restrictions on restaurants with drive-through lanes and delete the necessity for administrative approval by the Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use.

But the town's Plan Commission denied that request.

Three months later, owners of the site, which is part of a large, multi-use planned unit development that includes the St. Vincent de Paul, a multi-tenant commercial building and the multi-unit senior residential development Berkshire at Sunset, are looking to a governmental body that doesn't have restrictions on drive-throughs in this area.

"Most of the businesses on Sunset Drive would allow a drive-through," said Fortin, who added the city already provides sewer and water service to the site. "With what the city provides it makes sense."

Marek doesn't see it this way.

"I question the city when it's purely not a proper use of annexation laws," Marek said. "It's purely a threat. The city should not condone business such as this. I think it would be a disservice to the town to allow those properties to be annexed in order to circumvent the process for the safety of town residents for anyone who drives on Sunset."

St. Vincent de Paul is tax-exempt, but Fortin said there are other benefits to the potential annexation.

"It was on an island of town land that was surrounded by all sides of the city so I think a benefit is that it will eliminate these town islands," Fortin said.

Marek has worries about St. Vincent de Paul's reason to annex. Marek said because St. Vincent de Paul doesn't pay property taxes, it pays the town PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes).

"My question is are they trying to get out of PILOT payments?" Marek said. "In the pilot documentation, there's no provision for that to be transferred with annexation and that goes back to the crux of the issue of it not being proper for the city to honor an annexation request based solely to circumvent a long county and town provision."

Stephen Sirkis, the owner of the proposed Dunkin' Donuts property at Sunset & Prairie, LLC, declined to comment on the annexation request and Steve Cigich, the agent for The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Waukesha County, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

The City of Waukesha's Plan Commission will hear a request from the Community Development Department and Sunset & Prairie LLC, which owns the outlot, to consider changing the comprehensive plan and land use plan for the properties at the northwest corner of West Sunset Drive and South Prairie Avenue from industrial to commercial and residential.

"When the city did the land use plan we labeled the area industrial," Fortin said. "If you look at the city to the north it's all industrial, but those areas in the town developed as commercial, so we're just changing the land use to reflect that area."

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