MEQUON — The
city of Mequon is taking what amounts to a deep breath.
Commission and Common Council each moved this week to put the brakes
on development for a year in an area surrounding Cedarburg and
Donges Bay roads.
Commission approved a request for a year-long development moratorium
for the area that would include about 30 properties on a 5-2 vote
Monday. The Common Council followed suit Tuesday, giving unanimous
approval with no discussion. Final adoption is expected in April
after a required one-month waiting period to pass an ordinance. The
moratorium gives the city an opportunity to be proactive about the
direction development takes in the area, Kim Tollefson, Mequon’s
director of Community Development, told the Planning Commission. “In
other areas where we’ve been proactive about change and let the
private market know what was expected, we were successful from a
financial standpoint,” Tollefson said. The city got out in front of
development in the Town Center and in the Central Growth Area, which
is the subdivision that has been built on land previously owned by
the Mequon-Thiensville School District between Wauwatosa and Swan
roads, she said. “We want to ensure that as redevelopment happens,
it happens in a harmonious way and increases property values,” she
area includes Donges Bay Road properties between the Ozaukee
Interurban Trail and the Milwaukee River and properties from 10208
to 10518 W. Cedarburg Road, as well as 10402 Burning Bush Lane.
While it was
not specifically mentioned in discussion or a city memo, the
affected area includes the long-closed Alpine Village property on
the northwest corner of Donges Bay and Cedarburg roads. City staff
have told the News Graphic the property has been sold, but they do
not know the new owner’s intentions. The city has not received a
development-related application for the site.
she believes there are about 10 properties in the area that could be
subject to redevelopment. Not all are for sale.
State law sets
criteria that must be met to impose a development moratorium. The
city must either show there is a lack of infrastructure to serve a
desired development or delineate concerns related to public safety.
“We can’t do a
timeout just because we want to look at development,” Tollefson told
a reporter after Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.
Planning Commission discussion, Alderman John Wirth said the
moratorium will provide clarity for developers about what the city
would like to see.
“It’s one of the
gateways to Mequon,” he said. “It’s (now) kind of a hodge-podge, a
Brian Parrish – who opposed the moratorium along with Commissioner
John Stoker – called it “somewhat overreaching.” He said he
sympathizes with property owners who are trying to sell.
about development – and we’re tying it to a rise in crime,” he said.
“It’s more of a policing issue. I don’t see how it’s our issue.”
State law allows
for a one-year moratorium with a possibility for a six-month
extension. Tollefson said the moratorium can end sooner. Wirth
suggested he would like to see that happen, if possible. As part of
his motion to approve the moratorium, he added a condition that city
staff return in three months with a report.
Police data show
an overall 123.2-percent increase in public safety calls in the area
between 2015 and 2017. During the same timeframe, Mequon police
“responded to 17 new types of public safety calls, including types
considered by the Mequon Police Department as substantial crime
within the city,” according to a memo.
increased the number of business checks – activity that could
include a brief visit or checking a closed business to ensure doors
are locked – by 389.7 percent since 2015 and 263.8 percent from 2016
through 2017, Tollefson wrote in a memo to Common Council members.
is in part due to the number of businesses that are open to the
public 24 hours a day and the concentration of these and
similar-type uses, which include bars, hotels and gas stations,” she
the southeast corner of Cedarburg and Donges Bay roads, is one of
three businesses in Mequon that are open around the clock. The other
two are near Port Washington and Mequon roads. The moratorium area
includes Finn McGoo’s, a restaurant and tavern at 10365 N. Cedarburg
Road, as well as Libby Montana Bar & Grill, 5616 W. Donges Bay Road.
It also includes
Sybaris. The hotel and a now-closed adjacent restaurant, Sip/Yummy’s
to Go – both in the 10200 block of North Cedarburg Road – were the
subject of complaints by the city in February 2017.
Police said then
that there were 18 police responses to Sybaris between April 16,
2016 and Jan. 6, 2017. Those calls included disorderly conduct,
damage to property, a nearby drunk driving arrest and an allegation
that a guest was engaged in prostitution.
At Sip, the
event that drew the most concern from city officials was a Jan. 21,
2017, incident. Officers responding to a call about an argument in
the parking lot found a private security guard holding a man at
gunpoint. The customer, a Milwaukee man, 20, had a handgun with an
extended magazine. He was arrested for use of a dangerous weapon,
carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct.
complaint was the first step in a process that could have led to
revocation of the establishments’ liquor licenses. Both
organizations agreed to make a variety of changes – and the
situation appeared to calm down.
Steve Graff told a reporter Tuesday that Sybaris had been “very
responsive” in trying to correct the issues there. He added Kwik-Trip
always has cooperated with police.