Will Sussex go from 'small town' to big box?
Officials say development along Highway 164 won't change Sussex's charm
Village of Sussex - Village officials and trustees say they are confident they can maintain the village's "small town" atmosphere while at the same time allowing big box stores and major commercial developments along some segments of Highway 164.
Village trustees voted unanimously last week to increase from 125,000 to 250,000-square-feet the maximum size of a building in a conditional use development at highways 164 and K and highways 164 and VV (Silver Spring Drive).
The vote clears a hurdle for the construction of a 200,000-square-foot Meijer super center grocery and household retail store at 164 and Lisbon Road.
However, the vote also affects all present and future conditional use developments near the two intersections, as Village Administrator Jeremy Smith and Trustee Jason Wegner pointed out during last week's Village Board meeting.
"Kohl's and Shopko could expand their buildings to 250,000 with this ordinance change," Wegner said.
However, the vote appears to be contrary to the village's 2020 Comprehensive Plan, according to Joseph Cincotta, a Milwaukee attorney who represents Town of Lisbon residents opposed to plan.
"Big Box retailers will be viewed with some skepticism as to their role in the long term sustainability of Sussex's economic development. However, medium sized retail establishments with less than 100,000 square feet will be encouraged," according to the master plan.
The comprehensive plan says a "small town" atmosphere should be maintained ion the village.
Village officials should adhere to economic development policies that nurture local businesses, encourage development of corporate offices, and encourage additional development of existing business and industrial parks, according to the plan.
The plan also calls for policies that expand goods and serves, as well as job opportunities for village residents.
Meanwhile, NAI/MLG has submitted a revised plan for development of a 120-acre commercial and industrial park at Highway 164 and Silver Spring Road about two miles south of the proposed Meijer development.
Village Administrator Smith, along with Trustees Matt Cmeyla, Tim Dietrich and Pat Tetzlaff, say it is possible to maintain the small town atmosphere of the village while approving a 200,000-square-foot retail center and 120 acres of commercial park.
"I think the master plan is intended to be a fluid document that realistically reflects the village. While we want to maintain quaintness along Main Street, I don't think anyone expects quaint along Highway 164," Tetzlaff said.
"It can also depend upon the design, the architecture and the landscaping that go along with the building," added Smith who pointed out the village can insist on terms, conditions and amenities that can soften the appearance of any big box store.
If a development does not agree with those conditions, the permit does not have to be issued, he added.
"No one has a right to a conditional use," Smith said.
In addition, he noted, there are residential neighborhoods interspersed with the retail and commercial districts along Highway 164 to avoid the street appearing like Bluemound Road in Brookfield or Capitol Drive in Pewaukee.
Cmeyla said he does not feel that Meijer will be in competition with most downtown business because most of the businesses along Main Street offer different types of goods and service than available at Meijer.
Dietrich added the super store is located at an intersection that was intended for commercial use in the master plan.
He said when the master plan was drafted in 2002 and 2003, no one could have anticipated the opportunity provided by the Meijer development.
He said the development could increase the village's tax base which provides village officials with more flexibility in drafting budget that can help control individual tax rates.
The trustee said they have not heard from any village residents opposed to the Meijer project.
Some Town of Lisbon residents who live near the super center site have expressed concern by the additional traffic, noise and light pollution that would be created by the development. They are also opposed to the village allowing the store to operate 24/7.
Trustees Dietrich and Tetzlaff said they will continue to have reservations about the proposed commercial and industrial park at Highway 164 and Silver Spring.
The original plan submitted by NAI/MLG called for the village to purchase the 120 acres and use revenues from a special taxing district to finance public improvements on the site.
A majority of the Village Board members have indicated they opposed the idea of the village purchasing the land.
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