Ordinance tweaks may allow for more Grafton development
Plan Commission recommends reducing required green space in business park

By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff

Aug. 4, 2015

GRAFTON — The Plan Commission considered two zoning ordinance changes recently that could pave the way for future development.

The first addressed at last week’s meeting related to the business park district; while not a large area, the district does include several businesses.

“This district is only mapped currently on a couple properties in the village, specifically four off of Cheyenne,” village Planner Jessica Wolff said. The lots are the four of Form and Fitness, Port Washington State Bank, Flipside Cafe and Grill and Best Friends Veterinary Center.

The ordinance under review addresses the minimum landscape surface ratio, or the amount of a property that must be open green space after any development. The current ordinance requires 45 percent green space in the business park lots.

The ordinance, which was approved unanimously, decreases the ratio to 35 percent. It went before the Village Board Monday evening, but the outcome was not available by the News Graphic deadline.

“I think this requirement, the 45 percent, is rather high,” Wolff told the commission, adding that a business needing to maintain nearly half the property as open green space did not make a lot of sense for development.

Wolff said also that several of the lots do not have much room for expanding development because of how they are situated, but Form and Fitness planned for expansion in its original design.

Commissioner Alan Kletti asked Wolff if 35 percent was consistent with nearby communities; Wolff said that Grafton actually has a somewhat higher standard than many surrounding communities, and many places in Ozaukee County only require around 25 percent.

The second ordinance the Plan Commission discussed, which was tabled without action, would have amended the restriction against a property having more than one principal building on it.

Wolff told the commission that the village zoning code currently prohibits multiple buildings on a lot unless it is allowed by a planned unit development, and she did not believe in just zoning everything PUD to achieve zoning flexibility.

The zoning change would not alter single- or two-family residential zoning restrictions, but would affect multi-family and nonresidential zones. The ordinance change would allow property owners in the relevant districts to apply to the Plan Commission for permits to build additional buildings.

“I think that gives us the flexibility we need to still make sure that we maintain some orderly development in those non-residential districts,” Wolff said.

“In many cases for multifamily projects there are multiple buildings … I think it’s reasonable for those buildings to be on one lot,” she added.

The issue came to Wolff’s attention from an inquiry from the owner of a lot that has two principle buildings. Both were built before the ordinance and therefore the lot is classified as a legal nonconforming; because it does not conform, the owner cannot legally build additions to the buildings without a variance unless the ordinance changes.

The commission spoke in support of the changes but did not vote; several commissioners had concerns over wording and asked Wolff to review the amendment and add some clarifications before the commission took action on it.

One of the main concerns discussed was wording it so developers would not assume an automatic review by the commission itself.

“My concern is if you say ‘the Plan Commission shall consider,’ that might indicate to the developer that it will (automatically) go to the Plan Commission,” said Plan Commissioner and village President Jim Brunnquell. “I prefer to have the staff review … give you (Wolff) the ability to say ‘no, that’s not going to fly.’” Wolff told the commission she would review the amendment, make the necessary changes and bring it back in the August meeting.

Melanie Boyung can be reached at