Business barn proposal stalled by tie vote

Town Plan Commission concerned zoning change eliminates its control over other businesses coming in


Ozaukee Press staff

Developer and Fine Line Carpentry co-owner Nick Suddendorf’s efforts to get commercial zoning on a plot of land on Northwoods Road zoned as agriculture for the development of “Business Barns” was stalled by a 3-3 Town of Saukville Plan Commission vote Tuesday.

Suddendorf wants to build several business barns, or sheds, on the property south of the Faith Family YMCA that would be purchased for uses ranging from headquarters for small businesses to personal workshops. A similar development by Suddendorf found success in Port Washington.

A public hearing drew residents’ concerns regarding safety.

“To be approved as public business condos, the wind loads need to be higher, the floors and walls all need to be insulated per code, they need fire suppression and fire exits installed in all the buildings,” a resident said.

Suddendorf later said the Port Washington development’s larger buildings are insulated and have fire exits but did not say if the smaller units have them.

The resident, who owns a storage unit business, said the Port Washington development looks like storage units, and his proposal should be marketed as such, claiming this isn’t a commercial project.

A few years ago, the Plan Commission rezoned land on Blueberry Road because the resident “wanted to build a house and wanted permission to ‘park his excavation equipment there.’” In that instance, they “built a commercial building (taking up) over 12,000 cubic feet in a residential area.” The resident said this wasn’t as it seemed or originally proposed.

“The same thing is going on here with this ‘business barn’ development,” the resident said.

The board, with a nudge from Supr. Mike Denzien, separated Suddendorf’s project from the zoning proposal. Many commission members said they think Suddendorf’s proposal could be beneficial for the town, but in order to approve the commercial zoning the commission must accept the idea of putting any business that fits the zoning on that land. That could include dentists, financial companies and churches.

If the zoning is changed and the business barn plan doesn’t pan out, it would leave little room for the commission to deny other potential businesses, which was a concern for members Todd Korb and Tom Ravn.

“I can’t feel comfortable incorporating it into the current comprehensive plan,” Ravn said.

Commission Chairman Kevin Kimmes said the commission can’t change the zoning contingent on Suddendorf’s project. Once it is done, it’s changed regardless of his project’s success.

The village’s comprehensive plan doesn’t have a zoning option that would limit businesses enough for commission members’ comfort. In previous meetings, the board discussed moving forward with a planned unit development (PUD) zone.

The comprehensive plan doesn’t include a PUD zone. The plan was updated in 2008, and the commission agrees it is out of date and is not applicable to topics the town faces today, such as Suddendorf’s development. The commission hopes to revisit the comprehensive plan.

This also raised the question of setting a precedent if the commission would adapt the comprehensive plan for Suddendorf’s project. If the commission changes the plan to allow the project, it would have to adapt it for every similar project.

“What bothers me is that we are using a comprehensive plan for one project, when it should be a vision for the entire community,” Ravn said. “Why should it be amended for a singular project and set a precedent to amend the comprehensive plan?”

After an hour of discussion, commission member Marcia Nosko asked how to address the zoning change.

Nosko and Jeff Walezyk said they don’t see the land being used in a residential capacity due to wetlands on the parcel, so they need to determine if the town should keep it agricultural or switch to commercial. Walezyk is also concerned the village will eventually take the land if denied commercial zoning.

Denzien, who motioned to move the parcel to commercial use, said the town can’t say what will happen once the zoning is changed. He originally didn’t want to shift it to commercial for risk management purposes, but after hearing the discussion changed his vote.

The tie vote leaves Suddendorf to consult with Josh Miller of Cedar Corp., the town’s consultant, on how to move forward.



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