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Lisbon residents' attorney stalls Meijer approvals

Public hearing continued by lawyer's arguments

Dec. 4, 2012

Village of Sussex - The approval of a nearly 200,000-square-foot Meijer super center at highways K (Lisbon Road) and 164 has been stalled. A lawyer who represents two neighboring families who are opposing the project presented several arguments during a public hearing last week.

Attorney Joseph Cincotta of Milwaukee persuaded the Plan Commission and Village Attorney John Macy to continue until Dec. 20 a public hearing that began last week into whether the village should issue a conditional use permit for the construction and operation of the super center, and adjoining the gas station and convenience store.

Cincotta argued that he needs additional time to review volumes of documents he had recently received on the project. In addition, he said he may want to cross examine some of the Meijer representatives and village officials who appeared at hearing last week.

Cincotta also asserted that the village may be in violation of its boundary agreement with the Town of Lisbon because the Village Board and the Plan Commission have taken actions on the proposal prior to holding a joint Sussex-Lisbon planning committee meeting.

The building site is located on farm land in the Town of Lisbon that would become part of the village, according to the border agreement, in the event it was developed. Cincotta argued the joint planning committee meeting should have been conducted before the Village Board and Plan Commission began taking action on the project.

Village Administrator Jeremy Smith said the joint Sussex-Lisbon planning committee meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 17, three days before the continued hearing is expected to resume.

Village officials remained optimistic that the Plan Commission will be able to reach a decision by early 2013. However, some of them have privately acknowledged that there may be delays created by other agency approvals, particularly the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has already required one change in the plans. State highways officials will not permit the Meijer Company to develop a main entrance to store on Highway 164. Instead, the main entrance will be from Executive Drive which will extend from north of Lisbon Road south into the supercenter complex.

Nearly two dozen citizens, village officials, and Meijer Company representatives testified at the four-hour hearing at the village Community Center on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

The citizens appeared to evenly divided.

Most of those speaking in favor the proposal were village residents while many of those opposing plan were Town of Lisbon residents who live in the vicinity of the proposed development.

They argued that the size of the store and its 24-hour operations would adversely impact the neighborhood because it would result in significant increases in traffic, noise, and crime as well as pose potential storm water drainage problems in the region.

In addition, they suggested the development was contrary to the village's long range land use plans which they said discourages building big box stores in the village.

Proponents of project argued that the super store was an appropriate use for the land that is zoned for commercial development. They said the store could be a key component in plans to commercially develop Highway 164 between Silver Spring Drive and Lisbon Road.

They also noted that the store would add an estimated 200 to 250 jobs in the Sussex-Lisbon community in addition to adding to the village's tax base. They argued if the village did not approve the development, they would lose the economic development opportunity to another community that might welcome Meijer.

Jennifer Vojvodich, one of the last to testify at the hearing, quipped about its long and late hours.

"I didn't expect to be here at 10 o'clock at night. I thought I would be in bed by now," she said.

She urged the community not to consider Meijer as an "evil giant" but instead to give careful consideration of "some of the excellent points that have been made tonight."

Cincotta, in a 35-minute presentation, outlined a series of concerns the Wenger and Aubrey families, who own land near the site, have about the project.

He said that an 18-acre wetland adjacent to the site will be impacted by construction and operation of the super center as well as the adjoining gas station andconvenience store. He the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not delineated the wetland areas and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has not reviewed the plans to determine if the site will impact the wetlands.

He questioned the adequacy of the storm water and flood control management plan submitted by the company. He suggested that the building should be designed to be smaller in order to reduce the amount of traffic, noise, and public safety issues that may be raised as well as the concerns over adequate storm water control and flooding.

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