Brookfield OKs hearing for light poles at ‘regional shopping malls’
Proposed ordinance to accommodate changes at, near Brookfield Square

By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman

Sept. 20, 2018

BROOKFIELD — Residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on proposed lighting changes at portions of Brookfield Square next month, following a decision Tuesday.

The Common Council voted, 13-1, in favor of a request from the city’s community development department to hold a public hearing on a proposal to permit light poles of up to 32 feet at areas designated as “regional shopping malls” within the city’s zoning code.

Dan Ertl, director of community development, said the proposal is tailored specifically toward Brookfield Square, the city’s only property that falls within the zoning category.

The proposal, which Ertl has referenced as a “carveout” to the general terms of Brookfield’s zoning code, comes as new development is slated at and near Brookfield Square’s southeastern portion.

“The zoning code limits the heights of parking lot and service drive lighting throughout the community to 20 feet, including bases,” Ertl wrote in a memo, outlining the proposal. “Due to the vast size of the parking areas of the mall and the number of ring roads and service drives, it is appropriate to increase the permissible height to 32 feet.”

The changes would apply to the new tenants replacing the Sears parcel at the mall, including eateries Outback Steakhouse and Uncle Julio’s, in addition to the WhirlyBall entertainment venue and Marcus Bistro-Plex.

The amendment to the zoning code also would apply to the new development sprouting up directly to the south of the mall, including the Brookfield Conference Center and Hilton Garden Inn properties that are replacing the Sears Auto Center site.

Differing viewpoints

Several aldermen shared different viewpoints on the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.

Alderman Christopher Blackburn, a staunch opponent to allocating municipal funds toward the developments underway at the mall, said he was against the city making changes to suit the needs of one property.

Blackburn voted against forwarding the proposal to a public hearing.

Speaking to increasing lighting accommodations, Blackburn said, “We’re going the opposite direction, in terms of what we’ve been hearing from residents. This is a very narrow focus.”

Alderman Gary Mahkorn, however, offered a different viewpoint.

“I’m glad that we’re recognizing the mall and its unique characteristics,” said Mahkorn, who was not concerned about the change proposed since no residential properties are near the mall.

At the meeting, Ertl pointed out the city has made changes to the zoning code specific to Brookfield Square in the past. The socalled carve-outs Ertl referenced in the past pertained to permitting “diverse architecture” at the mall and loosened height restrictions.

“It is a unique entity in the city,” Ertl said of Brookfield Square and the regional mall designation. “We only have one.”

A specific date and time for the public hearing will be announced soon.

Also Tuesday, the council voted in favor of a method of operation for Fiddleheads’ plans of operating out of the 2,950-square-foot train depot within a mixed-use development at 18870-19100 N. Hills Drive.

The Plan Commission gave a favorable recommendation to Fiddleheads’ proposal Monday. A tentative timeline calls for the coffee roaster operating out of the relocated train depot by late next summer.