DELAFIELD — After an hour and a
half of public hearing, with testimony from nearly 30 citizens on
Wednesday night, proponents and opponents of plans for two
four-story buildings at the corner of Main and Genesee streets
agreed downtown Delafield will be changed, forever, if the plans are
approved by the city.
However, it is probably going to be months before a final decision
is made since city officials have learned the review process will be
much more cumbersome, and perhaps more controversial, than they had
Hendricks Commercial Properties of Beloit, the city’s largest
landlord, wants to build a commercial office and retail building
facing Genesee Street and a residential condominium and retail
building around the corner facing Main Street.
However, the plans exceed the maximum building height, number of
building floors, and distance from sidewalk to buildings required in
the city code.
The developers argue the height of the buildings and number of
floors are necessary in order to make it an attractive and
financially viable project that will provide residential and
commercial amenities, including above and below ground parking, that
will attract new businesses and residents to downtown.
However, opponents of the project, including Plan Commissioner Laura
Schult, argue changing the zoning code to favor one developer would
establish a dangerous precedent and the 19th century architecture,
and size of the buildings, are not compatible with the downtown
Mayor Kent Attwell explained to the Plan Commission that city
officials thought the commission and Common Council had the
authority to simply vote to waive the code requirements for the
However, a recently passed state law instead requires the council to adopt
changes in the zoning code, which requires another public hearing.
Those zoning code changes would also impact future developments in
the city, according to the mayor.
In a series of 6 to 1 votes, the commission asked the council to
make the necessary code changes to allow the plans to be approved.
However, an amendment by Commissioner James Reiher to the adopted
motion requires the commission to determine whether the
architectural plans and designs of the buildings are compatible with
the downtown business district after the council amends the code.
Reiher acknowledged to Conley Media that one of the purposes of the
amendment is to give the commission more time to negotiate with the
developers about the architectural features and design of the
City Administrator Tom Hafner told Conley Media he anticipated the
Common Council at its July 15th meeting would establish an August
28th public hearing on proposed code changes to be conducted by the
He said the earliest the council could vote on the code changes
would be in September.
The council may also decide whether to give the commission more time
to determine if the project is compatible with the downtown business
The project is supported by most of the downtown business community
as well as the citizens’ group Delafield Citizens for Responsible
Approximately 20 citizens, many of them small business owners and
tenants of Hendrick’s Commercial Properties, testified the two
buildings will provide new economic opportunities and energy into a
downtown business district that is lagging behind surrounding
communities in Lake Country in economic growth and prosperity.
There was testimony from five citizens opposed to the project who
argued Delafield and its downtown business community was prospering
because of its unique and historic small community ambiance that has
attracted businesses and residents to the city.
They argued the two buildings were not compatible with the downtown
business district and would change the ambiance of the city and its
Two citizens appeared to be neutral during the debate that repeated
arguments heard in previous hearings on the project.
<<EARLIER: Delafield development may be changed