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Proposed Wauwatosa Meijer back with more green space

Oct. 10, 2012

The Meijer store proposal for the corner of 112th Street and Burleigh Road will return to the Common Council agenda next week after a city panel approved a new plan for landscaping the site.

The Community Development Committee praised the revised parking lot proposal, which adds trees, expands the drive-through island for the pharmacy, and widens the green space between the parking lot and Burleigh Road, creating a more decorative "gateway to the city," as David Behrens, the project's landscape architect, described it.

Project wasn't green enough

The new plan brings the interior landscaped space to 11.5 percent of the parking lot, exceeding the city requirement of 10 percent. Previous plans had put the green space at 7.49 percent, including a small drive-through island but not the perimeter, stalling approval. The committee offered a compromise that would count some of the perimeter landscaping toward the final "interior" total, but after divisive debate on the Common Council floor, that plan was rejected and the proposal sent back to committee.

"I'm completely comfortable with it," Alderman Bobby Pantuso said at the most recent meeting Tuesday.

Pantuso, referring to the previous Meijer hearing before the committee, which lasted until nearly midnight, observed: "When we get a little tired, I would prefer, and I'm sure some developers would prefer, that we just hold the item rather than ram it through and have it come back to us."

Meijer's reation praised

Committee members praised Meijer's responsiveness to the concerns expressed during previous meetings.

"If this is an indication of how you do business, I'm looking forward to doing business with you," Alderwoman Cheryl Berdan said.

Alderman Dennis McBride, who was highly critical of the compromise plan, though he had proposed it in committee, said "no development is going to be perfect," but added "I think it's a major improvement."

By thinning the south-side green space, widening the Burleigh Street border on the north side, moving the building about 9 feet west, and shrinking distant parking spaces from 9.5 to 9 feet wide (closer spaces were not changed), Behrens was able to increase the interior landscaping without sacrificing parking from the original plan of 635 spots.

The committee approved both a preliminary planned development application and a conditional-use permit for the site, the latter with a couple of technical conditions.

Brian Randall, the attorney representing the project, noted that stormwater concerns required additional planning and would be reviewed by the city engineering staff - and the Department of Natural Resources and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, if need be.

The project, while back on track, still needs numerous approval from departments and committees, including design review by the city.

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