Oconomowoc officials reviewing easterly welcome mat
New ordinance aimed at improving appearance of city’s entryway

By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman

Nov. 21, 2017

OCONOMOWOC — It is an area of the city that includes low-rise to mid-rise buildings, historic buildings with an array of architectural styles and a range of property classifications.

While nothing is expected to change immediately, Oconomowoc officials are focused on a stretch of East Wisconsin Avenue, from the Highway 67 bypass west to Concord Road — particularly when future redevelopment projects bubble to the surface.

Jason Gallo, zoning administrator, and Kristi Weber, community development specialist, hosted a public information meeting Monday, offering the approximately dozen attendees a glimpse into what city officials are considering for a stretch of a major thoroughfare that encompasses 66 properties.

“We’re looking at what we can do to improve,” Weber said. “It’s the look and the feel and the image of this corridor.”

Gallo and Weber discussed possible ordinance language that could help in giving the area under scrutiny a more cohesive look in the future.

“This area of Wisconsin Avenue doesn’t seem to have any continuity,” Weber said. “We’re exploring opportunities to create a defined gateway to downtown. We want to say, ‘Welcome to Oconomowoc. This is what we look like.’” Although no specifics are on the table, Weber said the ordinance could bear fruit in the near future.

One area ripe for redevelopment within the corridor of scrutiny is a long dormant building at 630 E. Wisconsin Ave., which formerly housed a Sentry Foods operation. Elsewhere in the area, the city is considering the potential annexation of town property to the east.

Appearance is one part of the city’s emphasis on the East Wisconsin Avenue corridor.

Gallo said it is an important stretch of the city that contains $32 million in assessed valuation and encompasses 56 acres of property — 45 acres if roads are removed from the equation.

City officials are adamant no changes will be required at existing properties. But if the Common Council ultimately adopts the ordinance, Gallo said, future provisions would be in place as specific properties are redeveloped.

Green space, guidelines

Green space requirements and building height limits are among some of the ways city officials are looking to have more parameters in place for future developments.

“We feel this area — the gateway — should have some green space required,” Gallo said, pointing out some properties within the area do not currently have any. “The current regulations are not appropriate for this area. We would like to create standards for these 60 properties.”

As with any section of the city, Gallo said it also is important to have in place a clearly defined set of guidelines so developers know of the municipality’s expectations.

“It’s helpful to have a blueprint for the developer,” Gallo said.

Before the ordinance is adopted, city officials will go through several steps, the next being a pair of formal public hearings.

The first hearing will take place at a Plan Commission meeting Dec. 13; the second at a Common Council meeting Dec. 19. If all goes as anticipated, Gallo said, the council will vote on the ordinance in January.

A draft version of the ordinance can be viewed on the city’s website at www.oconomowocwi.gov/planning.