Permit approved for expansion
Broan-Nutone project contingent on approval of truck reliever route

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

May 11, 2016

HARTFORD — The city’s Plan Commission unanimously approved a request for a conditional use permit Monday night from Broan-Nutone that would allow a proposed 136,000-square-foot expansion of the company’s warehouse.

The company needs the permit so the new building can be 48 feet tall. City regulations only allow structures to be a maximum of 35 feet tall in the industrial park for reasons of fire control. The CUP needs final approval from the Common Council.

The approval was tempered with comments to city officials by Jeff Mueller, group president for Broan-Nutone. He said the company was only seeking the CUP so it could gather cost estimates for the project, which is not yet a done deal, until a long-sought-after truck reliever route around the city’s downtown is approved.

“I need to be very clear that we will not expand our current location, go beyond planning, or put a single shovel in the ground in Hartford unless there is an approved plan for the reliever route,” Mueller said in an email to City Planner Justin Drew. “I will move distribution before I make the decision to move another 350 trucks a day through downtown Hartford.”

Mueller said in the email adding more trucks to the already congested downtown traffic “would negatively impact the safety and livability of the community where 43 percent of our associates live.”

Mueller said the company is out of capacity for shipping and logistics at the Hartford location.

“We need to advance the cost estimates and option recommendations in an expedient way so that I can present options to my board of directors in the event that the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission recommendation in June goes one way or the other,” Mueller said.

The company has said earlier the expansion would mean more jobs at the Hartford facility, but no number was given.

Drew told the commission the addition would be built on the northeast side of the company’s property, across Wacker Drive from Woodlawn Union Park.

“The increased height is requested to maximize the efficiency of the warehouse space,” Drew said.

In April the commission endorsed and the Common Council approved an ordinance amending the zoning code to allow buildings in manufacturing districts to exceed the 35-foot height restriction as a conditional use after review by the Plan Commission.

“This allowed the city to make decisions on building heights in industrial areas based upon building- height water pressure studies, the proximity of residential properties, the heights of surrounding buildings and the proximity of fire hydrants,” Drew said.

The commission also recommended approval to the Common Council of Broan-Nutone’s site plan for the project.

Commission member and Alderman Wayne Rusniak commended the company on the design of the proposed structure.

“I think this is the finest design I’ve ever seen presented to the city for the building of a new warehouse,” Rusniak said. “Most of the other buildings look like warehouses, but this design will blend in with the community.”

The proposal calls for 14 loading docks on the east side of the building. Drew said all of the loading docks are set back more than 100 feet from the adjacent street.

<<RELATED: Opposition heard to Hartford’s reliever route plan

Reach reporter Joe VanDeLaarschot at jvan@conleynet.com.