‘Old Germantown’ proposal brings new development to ag property
Village Board green lights zoning change for agri-tourism business

By DAVE FIDLIN - For the Daily News

March 7, 2018

GERMANTOWN — A proposed tourism business touted as preserving Germantown’s agricultural heritage is moving forward in the village, despite a group of residents’ concerns about long-term impacts on the surrounding area.

After holding a public hearing, the Village Board on Monday voted unanimously in favor of issuing applicants Scott and Georgene Sommer a conditional-use permit for a small-scale restaurant and brewery in what is being described by the couple as “an agri-tourism destination.”

The operation, coined Old Germantown, is eyed on an agricultural parcel at W148 N12696 Pleasant View Drive.

“This plan has been kicked around for 30 years,” Scott Sommer said as he addressed his plans with the board. “We’ve given this a lot of thought. This is one of the last of the large plots of large farms (in Germantown).”

But the scope of the Sommers’ plans for the property drew concerns from some of the residents living in the vicinity of the property.

Jim Pfingsten, who has lived along Pleasant View Drive the past 25 years, said the immediate area has changed over time, and he said he was concerned further changes could be afoot if Old Germantown’s plans come to fruition.

“I have many questions and concerns with what I think is a very bad idea,” Pfingsten said. “I feel that this type of commercial development should not be approved at this time.”

Not all of the surrounding property owners, however, were opposed to what the Sommers have in the works.

“I’m an immediate neighbor, and I’m not against it,” resident Ken Ziebell said. He further stated speeding has been an ongoing concern and expressed hope Old Germantown could assist in better controlling traffic in the area.

According to plans the Sommers sent the village, Old Germantown will offer a farm kitchen and café, small batch brewery and sausage-making facilities on premises.

Several residents expressed concerns with the brewing aspect of the business plan and inquired if a full-fledged bar would be on premises.

“It’s not going to be a bar,” Scott Sommer said, in response to the concerns. “It’s not going to have bar hours.”

Although it is being promoted as a tourism-type establishment, Scott Sommer said he did not envision Old Germantown bringing in large numbers of people. Business would be seasonal, he said, with peak visitors likely in the late summer and early autumn months.

The business will feature 35 parking stalls, and the restaurant will have maximum seating capacity of 50 persons at any given time.

Also Monday, the Village Board, in a narrow 5-4 vote, approved rezoning a 107-acre site from an agricultural to single-family residential designation. Top Leaf Development has proposed a 42-lot subdivision.

The area under scrutiny is south of Freistadt Road, north of Elm Lane and west of Wasaukee Road.

The board fielded concerns from several nearby residents, who had reservations about traffic patterns and similar issues.

During deliberations, Trustee Terri Kaminski was among the elected officials to share concerns about the scope of the development. As proposed, Kaminski said she believed it was too dense.

“There’s too many homes,” Kaminski said. “I think 42 is too many.”