Town of Waukesha delays event barn vote
Officials clash during long public hearing

By KELLY SMITH - Freeman Staff

June 16, 2018

TOWN OF WAUKESHA - The Town Board and Plan Commission postponed until July 12 votes on a conditional use permit for a 50-acre event venue, including a 4,200 square-foot event barn, on the Lilac Acres Farm on S47-W2315 Lawnsdale Road.

The decision came after a four-hour public hearing that included contentious exchanges between town officials.

Town Chairman John Marek accused Supervisor Brian Fischer of being biased against the project.

Marek ask Town Attorney John Macy to determine prior to the July 12 vote whether Fischer could continue participating in the deliberations because of his actions during the public hearing.

Fischer asked that Macy research whether the public hearing violated state law.

 “The Town of Waukesha erred in noticing and convening this public hearing and it cannot continue to discuss, let alone act on, the request of the petitioner for the conditional use permit,” according to Fischer.

Fischer argued an ordinance adopted by the town last year permitting event barns violated state law because the ordinance was inconsistent with the town’s comprehensive land use plan.

“You are not a lawyer and I don’t trust your legal opinions,” Marek retorted.

“You came into this meeting already having made up our mind that you were against this project.”

Fischer demanded the hearing be stopped.

Macy responded that the hearing is required by law and would continue.

Hearing began May 1

The hearing began on May 1 when town residents living near the proposed venue voiced objections about noise, traffic, safety hazards and depreciation of land values they said the venue would create.

The venue would include the barn with a dinning room, bar and dance floor and facilities for catered food.

It would be available between the hours of 10 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

The events would be restricted to 150 people.

Macy explained during the May 10 hearing that because of a new state law - Act 67 - opponents of the proposal would be required to present “substantial evidence” that the plans failed to meet town conditional use permit requirements.

Macy added that property owner Kenneth Miller and his representatives would also have to provide “substantial evidence” that the proposal met the town’s conditional use requirements.

Resumes on Thursday

The public hearing was adjourned until Thursday to allow both sides to gather more “substantial evidence.”

However, at Thursday night’s hearing, an attorney representing the neighbors asked the hearing be adjourned so they would have more time to collect evidence supporting their opposition.

Lauren E. Maddente said there was evidence local police would be overburdened by the events and neighborhood streets were not designed to carry the volume of traffic created by the events.

She said two local realtors had attested the venue would result in the depreciation of some property values.

However, three neighbors supported the project.

Ryan Bedford and Rudy Zeilhofer argued the venue was a preferable alternative to a 40-home subdivision which could be developed on the land.

JoAnn Zeilhofer suggested some of the conditions being imposed on the venue by the town were “crazy and ludicrous.”

Attorney James Hammes, representing the Miller family, argued it was unnecessary to adjourn the hearing to another date.

He said his clients had presented town officials with “substantial evidence” that the venue proposal would meet all the town’s conditional use requirements.

After the public hearing was closed shortly after 11 p.m., the commissioners and supervisors decided to postpone their votes until July 12.