CITY OF OCONOMOWOC - Plans for a 218,628-square-foot Mills Fleet Farm store are moving ahead after the city's plan commission on Wednesday, March, 12, recommended the project to the common council.

The company is seeking permission to build the store on about 19 acres at the northeast intersection of Interstate 94 and Highway 67 in the Pabst Farms Town Centre development. Plans also call for a convenience store, gas station, auto service center and car wash, according to documents filed with the city. The store will include an enclosed outdoor materials yard.

The plan commission approved a major design review, also known as a site review plan, which recommends the common council approve the development. A developer agreement will also eventually need to be approved by the council.

“I know there are going to be elements of the community that would have hoped that we would have seen something else, but (those businesses) have come and gone,” said Commissioner Steven Ritt. “They have chosen some place else.”

Some city staff members and commissioners have expressed concerns, such as security measures and building heights. City planner Jason Gallo said the company has addressed those issues, including agreeing to lower the height of the silo fixture on top of the building from 64 feet to 60 feet to fit with zoning regulations.

Officials in the Oconomowoc Police Department expressed concern with the large size of the site, requesting the developer submit a surveillance camera plan that will assist with police-related activities, city documents say. The company has agreed that, Gallo said.

RELATED:Mills Fleet Farm proposed at Oconomowoc's Pabst Farms

Commissioner Derek Zwart, who also serves on the common council, said he believes the building exteriors are not consistent with other developments in the Pabst Farms, which typically include fieldstone walls. But, he said, he would support the development because it is the spark Pabst Farms needs to grow.

“I do think a lot of stores will follow, and this will be a good thing for the community long term,” Zwart said.

The developer agreed to a lot of concessions and changes, said Commissioner Stan Sugden, who is also the city engineer. He said he believes the changes are sufficient to make the project fit in with other development in the area.

"Plan commissioners need to know they added some enhancements to the walls, landscaping, lighting," Sugden said. “They really kind of honed in on what would be a good fit for the area.”

The common council meets on Tuesday, April 18, and action on Mills Fleet Farm is scheduled on a preliminary agenda for that meeting.

In documents submitted to the city, the company indicated that the retail space will add between 150 and 175 jobs.

Appleton-based Commercial Horizons will develop the project, according to city documents.

Founded in 1955, Mills Fleet Farm has 37 stores throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota, according to its website. Eighteen of those stores are in Wisconsin, including locations in Germantown and West Bend.

The company's corporate office is located in Appleton, according to its website.

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