Foundation proposes $2 million banquet facility
Neighbors in opposition create signs, website


By BRANDON ANDEREGG - Freeman Staff

June 8, 2018

              

Brandon Anderegg/Freeman Staff

Several neighbors living along Highway LO and Highway I in the Town of Mukwonago near the Greenwald Foundation’s proposed project site have erected signs in their yards, protesting against the plans for a 9,500 square-foot banquet hall. 

TOWN OF MUKWONAGO - The Greenwald Foundation is seeking Town Board approval for a $2 million banquet facility on the Millennium Manor Gardens property located on S100-W31244 Highway LO in the town, according to a pending conditional use application.

While the banquet hall proposal is in its infancy and does not include a plan of operation, the foundation intends to build a 9,500 square-foot venue to facilitate family gatherings, educational events, fundraisers, weddings and parties, said Ron Spear, the agent for the application. Spear added that the family is building the facility in honor of Sherry Greenwald who died in 2012, he said.

“The family has made attempts to honor her legacy by having a facility out there that could be enjoyed by the community as well as allow for celebratory events and fundraisers,” Spear said. “Very similar to Ten Chimneys (in Genesee Depot).”

This is the Greenwald Foundation’s third attempt to build a banquet facility at this location, but the Town Board denied the project in 2008 and again in 2016 based on the criteria within the town’s zoning code, and in part because of residents’ opposition expressed at public hearings, said Town Planner Tim Schwecke.

              

Brandon Anderegg/Freeman Staff

The Greenwald Foundation is proposing a $2 million banquet facility on the Millennium Manor Gardens property located on S100-W31244 Highway LO in the Town of Mukwonago.

Opposition

Approximately 50 residents including those who neighbor Millennium Gardens attended Wednesday night’s public hearing, some of whom were opposed to the banquet hall proposal, said Deputy Clerk Gail Obradovich.

In fact, an anti-banquet hall website has been created and several signs against the facility have been erected in the front lawns of residents living on Highway LO and Highway I, said Roger Oldenburg, who lives near the gardens.

For Oldenburg, the unknown elements of the project have left him skeptical. For example, the amount of traffic that could be added to the area if such a facility was constructed, the noise events would produce, and the effect runoff would have on the Mukwonago River and watershed, he said.

But the bottom line for Oldenburg is that the property is zoned for agriculture, yet a commercial business would operate right next to his home, he said.

“I didn’t move out here to move next to a commercial property,” Oldenburg said. “This area does not support a commercial entity and it’s not in the land use.”

Nick and Nancy Movrich, who also neighbor Millennium Gardens, both said the foundation’s plans are ambiguous, leaving residents with a lot of “what ifs” and uncertainty.

The couple has been living on their neighboring property for more than 60 years and have never had ill will towards the Greenwald family, Nancy Movrich said. She added that the property is beautiful and should be shared with the community in some way, but they’re troubled by how the project could impact the area, she said.

 ”It’s just the magnitude of the facility in an A-1 area,” Nancy Movrich said. “It doesn’t fit the surrounding community.”

A benefit to the community, Greenwald says

Greenwald Foundation Principal Dick Greenwald said the banquet hall will be “a thing of beauty, of benefit to the community without harm to the neighbors,” according to a letter addressed to Spear.

Greenwald goes on to explain that the family has worked with the requests of neighbors, restricting the number of guests per event to 200, eliminating open air tents as well as policing guests, Greenwald said.

“It would seem to me that the neighbors should be desirous of our proposal,” Greenwald said. “It gives them more protection and assurance of a quality event than they now have.”

State law changes

Even though there is strong opposition, the development may prevail due to a change in state law. Act 67, which was signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker in 2017, essentially limits the power of local governments to deny conditional use permits.

The law also prohibits officials from considering the opinions of citizens when deciding to grant a conditional use permit. Citizens opposed to any project must present substantial evidence to support arguments that a would-be development might lower their property values, threaten their public safety, or create other harm.

A second hearing for the banquet hall proposal will be held at a joint Town Board and Plan Commission meeting on July 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, W320-S8315 Beulah Road.

banderegg@conleynet.com

262-513-2657