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Meijer closer to permit approvals from Sussex

Dec. 24, 2012

Village of Sussex - Although they won a key victory at Village Hall last week, Meijer Company representatives acknowledge there are issues they must resolve with state and federal agencies before the company can build a nearly 200,000-square foot retail grocery and household goods store at highways164 and K (Lisbon Road).

The Plan Commission last week, after conducting four hours of public hearings on the project on Nov. 28 and an additional three hours on Dec. 20, instructed the village staff to begin preparing recommended terms and conditions for a conditional use permit that would regulate the construction and operations of the Meijer's super center.

Attorney John Macy who has served as village attorney for more than 30 years said it was the longest public hearing he can recall.

Village Administrator Jeremy Smith told the commission the draft permit would be presented to them at a January meeting. Smith said he expected the Plan Commission would vote on the permit in February.

However, Meijer's attorney Brian Randall predicted it could take longer.

"This process began 90 days ago on Sept. 20 and it may take another 90 days to finish it," he said.

Randall acknowledged the village permit would be conditioned on approvals from various state and federal agencies.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has warned there may be "suspected areas" of wetlands on the northeast corner of the site, according to Meijer's consulting engineer Michael Klingl of GreenbergFarrow, Arlington Heights, Ill. Klingl said he does not believe the areas are within a designated wetland where anyconstruction would be prohibited. However, the corps will not make a determination until vegetation in the wetlands begins growing in the spring of next year, according to Klingl.

If the corps designates the "suspected areas" as wetlands, a gas station and convenience store proposed to be build adjacent to the grocery and household goods store might have to be relocated.

Klingl said it ispremature to speculate how much of an impact, and how long of a delay, would be created on the project by changing the plans.

Meanwhile, there are at least two permits Meijer will have to obtain from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), according to James D' Antuono, a supervisor in DNR's Waukesha office.

D'Antuono told the Sussex Sun that he met with Meijer Company consultants on Thursday, prior to the Village Plan Commission meeting, and told them a Chapter 30 Permit will be required for the project because two stormwater control ponds are within 500 feet of navigable water.

The issuance of a Chapter 30 permit can sometimes require extensive environmental review and is subject to administrative and court reviews.

Meijer's will also have to seek a NR 216 permit that may require them to submit information about ground erosion and stormwater control plans.

Stormwater control has become a key issue in the permit proceedings. Darin Wenger, an opponent of the project, told the hearing last week that stormwater from a commercial park north of his home near Swan Road and the Pewaukee River flows south and south east.

He said the storm water sometimes floods the road and flows into a wetlands on the southeast corner of the project site. He asked engineer Keri Williams if she had taken that stormwater flow into consideration when she researched the stormwater impact the project would have on the


Williams acknowledged she had not studied the Pewaukee River watershed. But, she asserted that because of the proposed construction of two stormwater control ponds on the site, the flow rate of stormwater through the neighborhood would be reduced by 50 percent.

Attorney's questions

Much of last week's three-hour hearing was devoted to village officials and Meijer consultants responding to 18 written questions submitted by Milwaukee Attorney Joseph Cincotta.

Cincotta notified village officials by email at about 5 p.m. Thursday that he would not attend the meeting that night because he believed it would be too dangerous to drive from his Milwaukee office to Village Hall because of the severe snow storm.

Macy spent 35 minutes reading to the commission the questions posed by Cincotta and the responses of village officials. Macy told the commission he believed it was important they allow Cincotta's questions to be raised during the hearing and that the village officials and Meijer representatives respond to those questions.

Meijer's attorney Brian Randall did not object, but pointed out to the commission that he was able to drive from Milwaukee to Sussex. He said his law office is about three blocks from Cincotta's office.

Randall said he had asked his three engineering consultant witnesses to provide the commission with additional information about the project in order to respond to Cincotta's written questions as well as questions raised by citizens during last month's four-hour public hearing.

"We have tried to be an open book and provide as much information as possible and some might think we have provided too much information," Randall said.

"We believe we have satisfied the village's conditional use requirements," he concluded.

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