Town of Brookfield to review electronic sign ordinance
Moratorium in place as retailers take notice of The Corners

By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 7, 2017

TOWN OF BROOKFIELD — A long-term plan for when and where electronic signs will be permissible in the town could be in place early next year.

The Town Board on Tuesday voted to schedule a public hearing for the municipality’s electronic sign ordinance. Town officials this summer placed a moratorium on electronic signs so new language encompassing all areas of the community could be drafted.

A next step in drafting the language will take place Jan. 9 when the Town Board and Plan Commission hold a joint public hearing. Commissioners will hold their regular monthly meeting after the hearing, and could make recommendations to the Town Board.

Gary Lake, the town’s development services administrator, said the municipality received an uptick in electronic sign application requests early this year after The Corners officially began operations.

“They elevated the interest in the community,” Lake said of The Corners’ signage, which has been viewed as an important feature since many of the development’s businesses do not face the Bluemound Road corridor.

Early in the process of mapping out The Corners, the town zoned the land it now sits on as a planned unit development, or PUD, in an attempt at ensuring the project was mutually beneficial.

“It’s a common tool used by municipalities to identify specific benefits a developer will bring to the community,” Lake said of PUDs. In the case of The Corners, electronic signage was one of the elements town officials approved through the PUD process.

Electronic signage has been a thorny issue in some communities, as Lake pointed out in a followup interview.

A number of municipalities have in place ordinances aimed at safeguarding against bright, flashy signage from one corner to the next. In some instances, communities have been faced with lawsuits on free speech grounds.

“We haven’t been impacted by that, but as long as there are court rulings — it’s something we want to be aware of,” Lake said.

In other business Tuesday, the Town Board:

Issued conceptual and preliminary approval for Hilton Worldwide’s proposed 82-room lodging facility, Tru by Hilton, at 20925 Watertown Road. The Town Board’s motion, which comes on the heels of the Plan Commission’s favorable recommendation last week, moves the Tru proposal one step closer to reality.

Hilton’s developer representatives will assemble plans for architectural elements, lighting, landscaping and engineering details in preparation for the town’s final approval process in January.

Tru is slated to replace a vacant three-story office building, which has been sitting empty for five years. It would be situated next to another Hilton concept, Home2 Suites by Hilton, located at 650 Larry Court.

Issued a conditional-use permit to the operators of a proposed adult day care facility at 20711 Watertown Road.

The Plan Commission recommended moving forward with the proposal, which required a zoning amendment since the business plan does not currently fit into a permitted use for the area.