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Residents worry Wisconsin Lutheran intruding into neighborhood

July 10, 2012

Wisconsin Lutheran College wants to rezone 15 homes it bought in Wauwatosa so it can change one for use as office space and allow more students to move into the others.

Dozens of neighbors worried about continued expansion by the college into the residential community came to the Plan Commission on Monday to voice their concerns. They worried that rezoning would just open the door to replacing the buildings with larger dormitories or classroom buildings in the future.

Homeowners said they have battled the college for nearly 30 years. It purchased less than 10 acres of land in Milwaukee initially and has been expanding to the east into Wauwatosa since then, residents said.

"This is something that's really going to have a big impact on our neighborhood and our property values," resident Tom Genack said.

Commissioner Jody Lowe moved that the college's request be held for a month so the college can bring forward information about its plans for future growth and, specifically, about the parcels on Bluemound Road, Maywood Avenue, Bel Air Court and Wisconsin Avenue. The college owns additional homes in the neighborhood that aren't up for rezoning at this time.

Gary Schmid, vice president of finance for Wisconsin Lutheran, said the college has made a business decision to ask for rezoning so it can place a larger number of students into the homes, he said. The college's enrollment continues to grow and it is working with a consultant on a master plan for the future.

Schmid said he's not an expert on the history of the school's development issues with the city. There has been a turnover in the college's administration in recent years.

The college will hold a neighborhood meeting at 6:30 p.m. today in the Reichel Lecture Hall of the Center for Arts and Performance on the campus at 8800 W. Bluemound Road.

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