Outpost Natural Foods wins zoning change from Mequon Plan Commission
Neighbors have traffic, property value concerns
Mequon - Outpost Natural Foods is one step closer to moving into Mequon.
The Planning Commission on Monday voted to recommend zoning changes to the Common Council that will allow for the proposed grocery co-op to build on a lot at the northeast corner of Mequon and Wauwatosa roads.
Residents spoke for and against the development at a public hearing before the commission's vote. City staff recommended that the commission table requests for a conditional use grant and other plans as details are worked out between Outpost, city officials and residents of the neighboring Heron Pond Development condominiums.
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"We still need to address some of these issues and try to get some consensus before we try to take action on a conditional use," city Assistant Director of Community Development Jac Zader said, adding that the city is working with the developer to "mitigate the impact on residents."
The Planning Commission will revisit the rest of Outpost's proposals before eventually making recommendations to the Common Council for final approval.
Living with the neighbors
Those who spoke in favor of the development at the public hearing lauded Outpost for buying from local sources and supporting local business.
"This will help the farmers in Mequon and the farmers in Ozaukee County who supply the food," Ozaukee County Supervisor Jennifer Rothstein said. "It's an exciting proposal for those of us who have shopped there for years."
Representatives from Outpost said the site on Mequon and Wauwatosa roads was considered and ultimately passed on in 1997.
"It was a good fit then, as it is now," Outpost marketer Margaret Mittelstadt said. "We want to be a part of the Mequon community."
Residents of condo development Heron Pond, which wraps around the proposed Outpost site to the north and east, spoke out against the project.
"We think Outpost would be a very good neighbor, just not this close of a neighbor," Heron Pond condo owner Cathy Czaja said.
She said her property value will likely go down if Outpost moves in next door at an estimated 60 feet from her bedroom window.
Heron Pond resident Carol Butzke called the development "too close" and similarly said Outpost would make it harder to sell her condo.
"Very few prospective buyers would be interested," Butzke said.
Critics of the plan also suggested the added traffic could lead to safety and noise problems in the intersection.
Alderman Dan Abendroth asked whether a traffic study should be part of the plan.
"Our staff, and the DOT staff, could dictate a traffic analysis," Zader responded, "and the commission can include an analysis as part of approval."
He added that an analysis could be included as a condition of the proposed use grant.
Abendroth added that the city needs to keep in mind how drivers may need to U-turn or make awkward turns within the intersection.
"It's not so much the volume of traffic," Abendroth said, "but how it moves in that neighborhood."
Abendroth attempted to table the zoning request until the rest of the plan details are worked out, saying it would be "premature to zone it commercial without the rest of the project to go with it," but withdrew his motion for lack of support.
Before the vote, Commissioner David Romoser was adamant that the change be approved.
"Leaving the zoning as it has been left has caused it to languish," Romoser said. "In the interest of the Town Center being successful we've go to get the zoning right."
AT A GLANCE
The Planning Commission recommended rezoning properties at Mequon and Wauwatosa roads from R-2B residential 1.5 acre to B-1 neighborhood commercial. Below are a few examples of Mequon businesses within areas zoned neighborhood commercial:
Donges Bay Clubhouse
Pat's County Line Market
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