Proposed operations change sparks concerns about town’s rural character
Owners of The Cupola want on-site parking to keep business viable

By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman

Feb. 21, 2018

TOWN OF OCONOMOWOC — A business owner’s request to modify an operations plan sparked concerns this week about traffic, noise and light in an area residents are trying to keep close to its rural heritage.

David Vecellio went before the Plan Commission on Monday to discuss a proposal to add on-site parking at The Cupola, a year-old seasonal business that houses about 75 special events per year. Events housed at The Cupola are held within a barn at N88W35490 Mapleton Road.

“In order to keep our business going, we’re going to have to have parking on site,” said Vecellio, who co-owns The Cupola with wife Stacey.

Vecellio is asking town officials for permission to add 100 parking spaces on the property — which, he said, would take into account the 200-person capacity in the barn and the assumption there would be about two persons per vehicle attending events at the venue.

Differing responses from neighbors

While Vecellio argued the parking accommodations were necessary to keep his business viable, a number of residents near the property had a different take on the plans, which would require an amendment to a conditional- use permit town officials granted the Vecellios.

Resident Diane Waite, who lives on the same street of The Cupola, said she and neighbors came to the meeting as a sign of solidarity against the Vecellios’ plans for the property.

“I think it’s about time the Town of Oconomowoc understands that we support one another,” Waite said. “This isn’t part of our game plan. Our game plan is agriculture.”

Not all nearby residents, however, were against the Vecellios’ plans. Fellow Mapleton Road resident Sandy Smith said she viewed The Cupola as positive to the community.

“This is a good thing for the town,” Smith said. “It’s going to give our kids jobs.”

Waite and several other speakers also used the proposed change to the property as an opportunity to air concerns of existing and potential future traffic patterns along Mapleton Road, which doubles as Highway CW and is under the county’s auspices.

Town Administrator and Planner Jeff Herrmann said most of the features — including posted speed limits — along the highway are outside the municipality’s purview.

“We don’t have a lot of control over that,” Herrmann said. “What you have to know is you’re on a county highway. We’re not saying your concerns aren’t valid, but we have no control over it.”

A few speakers also took aim at the amount of lighting at The Cupola, though Vecellio countered that it is at the lowest wattage possible.

“We’re trying to be good neighbors — we really are,” Vecellio said as he addressed neighbors’ concerns. “We’re trying to take an old barn and turn it into something beautiful.”

Commissioners did not take any action at this week’s meeting, opting instead to have a public hearing and field residents’ concerns for the property.

Herrmann said a review of the possible conditional-use application amendment will be taken up at the Plan Commission’s next meeting March 5.