Council takes issue with rezoning in Pabst Farms
Concerned with possibility of high-density apartment

By Jake Meister - Enterprise Staff

Sept. 21, 2017

OCONOMOWOC — Though it was just the first reading, the way the Oconomowoc Common Council addressed a proposed rezoning for Pabst Farms Development, the stakes seemed like they couldn’t have been higher.

William Niemann of Pabst Farms Development submitted to the city an application requesting that the Oconomowoc Comprehensive Land Use Plan 2010-2030 be altered on a 70.9-acre portion of the development.

In the application Niemann submitted, Pabst Farms requested that the 31.9-acre site first be zoned as a business park to accommodate Roger Memorial Hospital’s campus; the 31.2-acre second parcel be zoned as high-density residential to accommodate an apartment complex and the third, 7.8-acre parcel be zoned business park to accommodate an office and commercial retail ventures.

City Planner Jason Gallo said Pabst Farms Development has not yet identified what specific projects would transpire in the third parcel.

The entire area, located on the northeast corner of Old School House Road and Valley Road, is currently zoned suburban residential.

Just about as soon as they were given the opportunity, the aldermen pounced on the idea of any variety of high-density apartment complex being plopped at Pabst Farms.

Alderman Lou Kowieski said he has concern with the amount of high-density residential projects near Summit Elementary School, located at 1680 Valley Road.

The idea of having a big apartment complex near the school made Alderman Michael Miller uncomfortable.

“I just hate having apartments next to a grade school,” Miller said. “I’m just nervous about that.”

Gallo said he believed the infrastructure is in place at that area to provide essential movement of foot traffic around a possible apartment structure.

Alderman Tom Strey said he too isn’t a fan of what was being proposed at parcel 2, adding that he doesn’t want to see more apartment complexes.

Alderman Kevin Ellis said he had issues with all three parcels, especially parcel 2. He said he would have never moved to the area more than a decade ago if he knew how many apartments would be going up in Oconomowoc.

Alderman Matt Rosek said he had concerns with the impact the apartments would have on schools, and simply the number of apartments that could possibly be put at the location.

Rosek added that he isn’t comfortable with any of the projects because what was presented to the council lacked too much detail in terms of what might be built.

“We’re going to open this can of worms and anything can go next to it,” Rosek said.

Eventually, the council decided to amend the reading so that it would exclude the second parcel with a 4 to 3 vote, as Ellis, Rosek and Alderman Jeff Schmidt voted no.

The second parcel can come back on its own reading.

Once the amendment passed, the first reading pertaining to parcel 1 and 3 passed 4 to 3, with the same aldermen opposing.