OCONOMOWOC — An outside mediator
will likely be enlisted to determine next steps for a controversial
condominium project at the historic
517 Lake Road site in the heart
Members of the city’s Architectural Commission last Wednesday took
up developer Renner Architects’ latest proposal for the site, which
reduces the scope of the project from 13 to nine condominium units.
But a number of commissioners, who were tasked with giving direction
on next steps for the latest proposal, said they were uncomfortable
offering any type of recommendation.
The site is located between Lac La Belle and Fowler Lake, and is a
part of the city’s Isthmus District. The city has strict regulations
of what can be built there and what can’t, Oconomowoc Mayor David
Nold previously told the Enterprise.
“I have spent a lot of time looking at this project, and I have
struggled with this project,” said Kent Johnson, who chairs the
Architectural Commission. “This is a very tough one for me.”
Commissioner Kurt Schrang offered similar concerns about giving a
directive, one way or the other.
“Our job, as I view it, is we look at the merits of (a proposal), as
far as design. Does the project fulfill the requirements of the
local zoning ordinance?” Schrang said. “I feel that we’re in a
position of not being able to do our job.”
Given the amount of scrutiny and controversy that has arisen from
the project, Commissioner Anne Krogstad said she believes the
project is beyond the purview of the appointed body.
“We’re here to improve Oconomowoc and make it a beautiful city,”
Krogstad said. “Our job isn’t to placate or decide who’s going
to go where.”
Because of the incumbent commission’s concerns, City Attorney Stan
Riffle said he recommended pursuing the outside meditation to make a
determination on the project’s latest iteration.
A hearing examiner was discussed as one possible professional to
bring into the fold and step into the shoes of the Architectural
“I appreciate your candor,” Riffle said to the commissioners. “I
know this is difficult for you.”
Because of the various logistics that must come together, it remains
uncertain when the outside meditation will take place. But Riffle
and City Planner Jason Gallo suggested it might not return to an
agenda until this spring.
“When is this going to come back? I don’t have the answer to that,”
As with any municipal meeting, Riffle and Gallo said the forthcoming
one with the mediator would be open to the public and go through all
of the regular channels of required notification, including printing
a legal notice in the Oconomowoc Enterprise.
Peter Renner, founder of Renner Architects, first pitched his
residential project, dubbed WaterView Condominiums, in the fall of
were inundated with concerns about the project when
it was first proposed. Thousands of signatures were filed, and more
than 3,000 letters opining on the project were sent to City Hall.
In a letter to city officials attached to the revised plans, Renner
maintained condominiums would be viable for the property.
“We believe that there is a dire need for high quality condominiums
in the heart of Lake Country, mostly to accommodate people who don’t
want to maintain a high maintenance lake property,” Renner wrote.