Creation of Okauchee downtown zoning district proposed
Open house to discuss plans with intent to bring in more businesses

By Alex Nemec

Jan. 10, 2019

 The sign welcoming residents to Okauchee Lake. Waukesha County and the Town of Oconomowoc are looking to create a Downtown Okauchee Zoning District that would run from this point at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Highway P to Foolery’s, N52-W35091 Lake Drive. The district would also include the area from the roundabout to Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Alex Nemec/Enterprise Staff

OKAUCHEE — Waukesha County and the Town of Oconomowoc are looking at creating a Downtown Okauchee Zoning District in order to improve upon the city’s downtown area and attract new businesses to the area.

The Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use will host a public open house to discuss the creation of a Downtown Okauchee Zoning District from 6 p.m. to 7:30 on Jan. 22 at the Oconomowoc Town Hall, W359-N6812 Brown St.

Representatives from the county and the Town of Oconomowoc will be available to answer questions and discuss the zoning district proposal and ordinance amendments, a press release from the county states.

“The cooperative planning effort proves a great opportunity to examine existing zoning codes and recommend adjustments to enhance the ability of downtown Okauchee to attract business and customers to a vibrant downtown,” Waukesha County Director of Parks and Land Use Dale Shaver said.

The downtown district would run from Foolery’s, N52-W35091 Lake Drive, to the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Highway P and then down to Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, N50-W35181 Wisconsin Ave. Parks and Land Use Senior Planner Amy Barrows said the current ordinance provisions applied to downtown Okauchee were developed decades ago for unincorporated rural areas.

The zoning code requires larger setbacks and offsets right now, Barrows said.

“We felt the traditional zoning codes didn’t work for a downtown environment,” Barrows said. “Also (we) received comments from local business owners that they wanted to see provisions that accommodated a downtown.”

Town of Oconomowoc Chairman Robert Hultquist said if the zoning district is approved it’ll attract more businesses to downtown Okauchee, or that’s the hope.

“The zoning district would help us improve on the downtown and bring more people in,” Hultquist said.

Barrows said a committee worked with the business owners to make adjustments to reduce road setbacks and offsets.

“(We) also worked with them to encourage more density and address the lack of parking available because the lot sizes are so small in order to encourage the look and feel of a downtown,” Barrows said.

“By encouraging that look, the goal is to bring more businesses to downtown Okauchee and boost the area.”

Hultquist said it would be a tremendous help if the town can get sewer residential equivalent connections (RECs) from the city of Oconomowoc.

“If we can’t get sewer RECs from the city, I don’t know where it’s going to go, quite frankly,” Hultquist said. “The lines are already there in most cases, we just need the permits to hook up.”

Hultquist said the problem is the city will give the town sewer RECs in exchange for town property.

“Our town residents don’t want to go into the city,” Hultquist said. “They’re satisfied with the services they get from the town and they’re very happy with our taxes.”

Oconomowoc Mayor David Nold said the only way a city can grow is annexing land from the surrounding towns.

“If they want to have services that we offer, they have to offer us something as well,” Nold said.

Nold also mentioned that there have been millions of dollars invested into the infrastructure and the city can’t just give the service away.

“It’s not something you can just give away because it’s something that has been paid for by the city residents,” Nold said.

For more information on the project’s location and provisions, go to the news and events tab at www.waukeshacounty.gov/landandparks/planningandzoning.