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Wauwatosa gas station proposal on Vliet Street needs more study, panel says

Jan. 8, 2013

A proposal to resurrect a gas station at the corner of Vliet and 60th streets drew strong objection from 10 neighborhood residents at Monday's Plan Commission meeting.

"I am definitely asking you to not approve this type of incursion of additional traffic and congestion where it is neither needed nor wanted," Marilyn Mayr said.

Mayr got her wish, at least temporarily.

The commission sent the proposal back to staff for more work, and asked the developer for more detailed plans.

Mayr, like other opponents of the proposal, is a resident of Lombard Court, a short, 10-home cul-de-sac that curls from Vliet Street to a point behind the station. An alley separates the gas station and neighboring business to the west from some of the homes and yards of Lombard Court.

Sharon Eiff of Lombard Court said the short street has just five street-side parking spaces for the 10 residences, and is frequently used by drivers turning around for a better exit onto Vliet or to use the alley as a shortcut, to avoid the intersection of Vliet and 60th streets.

Eiff said traffic is sometimes "dense" around that corner, and she said she was concerned that gas station customers would add traffic to the court and alley.

The gas station began operating in the mid-1960s, said architect Robert Wold, who appeared on behalf of the applicant, Mandeep Dhawan. Although it has a large canopy and pumps, the station has not sold gas in some time. The current proposal is to add a second canopy and more pumps, and open a convenience store in the building, Wold said.

"I'm not here strictly to speak in opposition," said Alderman Dennis McBride, who appeared on behalf of residents, "but to ask the Plan Commission to take into consideration some of the concerns that the neighbors have just raised."

While many residents who spoke objected to the convenience store element of the plan, pointing to other convenience stores in the immediate neighborhood, McBride said he did not oppose a convenience store in principle.

"I don't think you as a Plan Commission or we as a Common Council are in the business of picking winners and losers," he said. "However, I do think that the traffic concerns are real here, especially for people on Lombard Court."

The Meritage Restaurant, Times Cinema, Highlands Café, Café Perrin, Grandma's House Daycare, Promolux promotional apparel, Sazama remodeling and a beauty parlor are all within a block of the gas station site, and, residents said, contribute to traffic at various times of the day.

"It's a rising community," Commissioner Jody Lowe said.

The commission's unanimous resolution asked the applicant to return within 90 days with plans that show an improved appearance of the business, answer questions about the size of a second canopy, address gas delivery routes and answer other questions. The commission asked city staff for a traffic study of the blocks that would be affected.

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