Village Square; more controversy, again
City of Delafield — Madison developer Joe McCormick's plans to build three apartment buildings - each about 30 units - on the west edge of the Village Square shopping center apparently violates a 10-year-old, out-of-court settlement agreement between the city and the original developers of the shopping center located at the interchange of Highways 83 and 16 on the northeast corner of the city.
Keith Ulstad, vice president of United Properties Inc. of Minneapolis, says he will ask the Delafield Common Council to amend the agreement so the apartment complex can be built.
United Properties acquired the approximately 27-acre development from Roundy's Inc., the wholesale food company, after Roundy's and Oconomowoc developers Jon Spheeris and Michael Schutte agreed to the out-of-court settlement with the city.
Last year, Ulstad approached McCormick about the possibility of developing apartments on the edge of the shopping center in an effort to generate some additional customers for existing tenants, including a Pick 'n Save grocery store, and make the development more attractive to possible future tenants.
A combination of factors including the 2008 recession and development restrictions in the out-of-court settlement, have made the development a challenging one, according to Ulstad.
He said about 30 to 40 percent of the property is still undeveloped.
"I had anticipated this property being fully developed years ago," he said.
Ulstad's concedes that the total square footage of the development would exceed a 150,000-square-foot limit imposed by the agreement if the apartment complex were approved and built.
He also agreed each of the three-story apartment buildings, which are approximately 30,000 square feet, exceeds a 25,000-square-foot maximum imposed in the agreement.
However, he argued that an apartment complex is a good use of the land and would provide development that would be less intrusive to homeowners who live adjacent to the shopping center along Vettelson Road which borders the southern boundaries of the development.
"People, including myself, have become pretty emotional about this project. But there is one fact that is not emotion, residential developments generate less traffic than commercial or retail."
Mayor Michele DeYoe suggests "there are a lot of gray areas" between what McCormick is proposing and what the settlement agreement allows.
She said she wants the city's plan commission to continue its deliberations on whether to approve the project before the common council decides whether to amend the agreement.
"I don't see how the council can decide whether to amend the agreement until they have some specific proposal that defines how the agreement would be amended," DeYoe explained.
"I agree with City Attorney Jim Hammes that the council with a majority vote can amend the agreement. But this is not something that is black and white. I think we also have to take into consideration the spirit of agreement. There are a lot of gray areas here," the mayor added.
The commission agreed at its meeting last week to conduct a public hearing on the revised apartment apartment project. However, Ulstad and McCormick are not sure when they will be ready for the hearing. McCormick said it will not be sooner than September.
McCormick's revised proposal is very similar to plans he submitted late last year that were approved by the commission but later rejected by the council.
The out-of-court settlement reached in 2004 was intended to quell nearly two years of intense controversy surrounding the shopping center development and resolve a law suit that Spheeris and Schutte filed against the city after approval of the shopping center stalled.
Alderman Jeff Krickhahn, who played an instrumental role in those negotiations, explained to the commission last week how McCormick's proposal would violate the agreement.
He noted that the apartment complex, if approved, when combined with the existing tenants, at the shopping center, including the 45,000-square-foot grocery store, would put the development over the 150,000 threshold.
Limiting the size of the shopping center development in order to protect the rural residential character of the Vettelson Road neighborhood was one of the key issues in the settlement negotiations, Krickhahn later explained.
Krickhahn, who is council president, is one of the few remaining key city officials whose tenure dates back to the controversy. He lives on Vettelson Road and was among the resident who initial opposed the development. He was elected to the council in 2003.
Krickhahn said he discovered the possible violations of the settlement when he recently read a report from City Planner Roger Dupler that defined the total square footage of the proposed apartment complex.
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