OCONOMOWOC – Pabst Farms again took center stage at the
regular meeting of the Oconomowoc Common Council on
Tuesday, when the council approved an amendment to the
controversial project’s general development plan in a
The approved amendment will increase the building size
of two anchor stores, but reduce the project’s total
It also reconfigures the restaurant and commons area and
replaces the underground storm water storage with a
surface pond and the plan’s monument wall with berms and
The debate over the development continued as residents,
council members and Mayor Jim Daley expressed their
views first in a public hearing then in a lively
discussion that oscillated primarily between three
aldermen and the mayor.
“With this agreement comes a concession with the
developer to allow the city and this Common Council a
much greater component in the approval process moving
forward,” Daley said.
Later in the discussion, Alderman Ken Herro called that
assertion meaningless after discussing the council’s
power to reject retailers with an attorney that
specializes in retail the city has hired to provide
guidance for the project.
“I just want to say I think this is the lowest common
denominator of a strip retail. If that’s what you all
want to do, God bless you,” Herro said.
Before the amendment was approved, the city held a
public hearing at which several residents asked the
council to slow down and table the amendment so that the
general public and the council itself can make a more
“There’s no compelling reason why the die must be cast
tonight,” Brian Nemoir said.
Nemoir and most of the other petitioners felt the
original vision of Pabst Farms has been altered into an
ordinary, unappealing plan that is not the best
long-term decision for the development and the city.
Pabst Farms attorney Dean Richards countered that
sentiment by expressing concern that the project will
stall, retailers will lose patience and that the
original circumstances have changed mostly due to
Pabst Farms President Peter Bell said that he will soon
be travelling to Las Vegas, where he’ll attend a retail
convention that will provide opportunities to promote
Pabst Farms to potential anchor stores and urged the
amendments be passed so that the he can deliver a
positive message to them.
For nearly two hours, the council discussed the proposed
changes. Daley stood behind his position that the
changes will grant the council greater oversight of the
development plans and that the economic environment is
the primary factor in the difference between Pabst
Farms’ early iterations and the revised versions.
Herro was firm in his opposition to approving the
amendment while his colleague Alderman Robert Morgan
maintained the development needs to progress and that
the changes represent that chance. Alderman James Larsen
ultimately voted against the amendment, but expressed
both its pros and cons.
The amendment passed 5-3, with Herro, Larsen and
Alderman Mike Miller voting against it.
In other news: The council unanimously approved the use
of Veterans Memorial Park for the construction of a
200 N. Lake Road. Daley called the project an “easy
A conditional use permit was granted for Divine Salon
and Day Spa at
317 N. Lake Road, a locally famous Victorian
mansion. Several aldermen expressed support for the
project, which will include spa services such as
massage, pedicures and hairstyling.
The council also approved a consent agenda item
approving payment to Sears Holding Company in a tax