WaterView Condominiums denied by hearing examiner
Says proposal ‘does not meet mandated design criteria’

By Alex Nemec

March 27, 2019

 

OCONOMOWOC — Architectural Commission Hearing Examiner John Fuchs has submitted his report to the city in which he has concluded that the WaterView Condominiums project is denied.

“It is my determination, acting as the Architectural Commission, that the applicant’s proposal does not meet mandated design criteria and approval is denied,” Fuchs said in his report.

The project proposed by Renner Architects was planned for 517-525 N. Lake Road, located in the historic Isthmus District, which requires special design standards to conform to the other buildings in the area.

According to the report, the standards require that all development facades and building changes shall reflect building, scale, design, configuration, details, material and color which reflect the practices as common in the period between 1870 and 1930.

Fuchs said in his report that Renner Architects’ project was unlike any of the other homes in the area.

“The homes in the area, particularly on Lake Road, are substantially dissimilar to the proposed development, both in terms of mass and other design criteria, and essentially the surrounding area does not conform to the applicable design standards,” Fuchs said.

He stated that the project as proposed “does not conform to applicable design standards, particularly in failing to adequately reflect the architecture of the time, and further as to its mass, style, form and various details relating to doors and fenestration.”

“I conclude it also fails to complement similar development in the area.”

Fuchs said he recognized Renner Architects’ previous submittal involving 12 units, and that the elevation, treatments and materials have been taken into consideration, meaning the architect has recognized the standards set for the Isthmus District.

“The effort in no way alters my conclusion at this time that the project as proposed must be denied,” Fuchs said.


Reaction

Renner Architects owner Peter Renner did not respond to a request for comment.

At the hearing on March 20, citizens came to City Hall to voice their displeasure with the project, a point Fuchs said he noted in his report.

“The citizenry overwhelmingly views the proposed development as not conforming to the requisite standards,” Fuchs said. “One might argue that those opposed have an inherent bias and thus argue there is non-compliance.

“It would seem more logical and likely that it is non-compliance which motivates their objection.”

Isthmus Historic Preservation Society Director David Cullinane said he was happy to hear it was rejected and added that it was clear the project wasn’t in compliance.

“As pointed out by the hearing examiner, in addition to two independent architects that reviewed this project, and all three of them were in concordance that there was nothing about the project that really fell underneath the zoning ordinances,” Cullinane said.

The Society has prevented 15 total architecturally important homes in the Isthmus District, Cullinane said.

“I think out of town developers have had a long history of attempting to destroy the culture of not only our neighborhood, but our city,” he said. “This particular set of ordinances was put in place exactly to prevent that.”

Cullinane said he thinks Fuchs’ denial was appropriate.

“We feel that it’s time that this developer found another site in the city that the city can help him locate, so that he can work within appropriate areas in the city, like other developers have,” Cullinane said.

<<EARLIER: Developer, citizens voice arguments on condominium project

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