DELAFIELD — A citizen activist,
a plan commissioner and an alderwoman are not happy about the city’s
plans to conduct a public hearing and a Plan Commission vote on the
same night next week about significant changes to the downtown
business district zoning code.
City Planner Roger Dupler said the public hearing and vote will be
conducted “by the book and according to city ordinances” and are
part of an informal agreement between the city and a developer.
Citizen activist Lynda Holton, Plan Commissioner Laura Schult, and
Alderwoman Jackie Valde, in separate interviews, said citizens do
not have enough time to study the amendments and prepare comments
for the public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. at City Hall on
Wednesday, Aug. 28.
They suggested the commission’s vote should be delayed, allowing
commissioners more time to consider testimony received at the
The hearing is about amendments in Central Business District 1
regarding the height of buildings, number of floors in buildings,
and how far buildings must be set back from sidewalks or streets.
However, the details of those amendments were not released until
The Plan Commission is scheduled to vote on the amendments after the
public hearing Wednesday night.
It is not unusual for details regarding public hearings to be
released on Friday before the hearing and the commission often casts
votes following public hearings.
However, these amendments could have a profound effect on the
downtown business district, according to city officials and business
owners, because taller buildings with more floors might be permitted
and setbacks, for the first time, might be imposed in the district.
“I thought the purpose of the public hearing was to gather
information. Based on that information, amendments would be drafted
for the Plan Commission and Common Council to consider, possibly
after conducting a second public hearing,” Schult told Conley Media.
“How can you expect citizens to intelligently comment at a public
hearing if you do not give them time to prepare? People have lives,
they should not be expected to have to spend a weekend preparing for
a hearing,” Holton added.
Valde: ‘Democracy is a sloppy process’
“If you are going to hold a public hearing and then vote on the same
night, it becomes a de-facto public hearing,” according to Valde.
“I understand the need for expediency and reducing the number of
meetings at City Hall, but democracy is a sloppy process and I like
it that way,” she added.
“I would have much preferred holding the public hearing and then
taking our time before having a vote,” Valde concluded.
The hearing and vote were scheduled on the same night as part of an
informal agreement between the city and Hendricks Commercial
Properties of Beloit, according to Dupler.
The developer agreed to extend a deadline for city approval of the
company’s proposal to build two fourstory buildings on the corner of
Genesee and Main Street.
If the deadline had not been extended, according to Dupler, the city
would have rejected the development because the buildings do not
comply with the code regarding the height, number of stories, and
Downtown business owners and citizens supporting the development
urged the city to either amend the zoning code or provide exceptions
to the code to allow the buildings to be built.
Opponents argue the buildings are too large and not compatible with
downtown Delafield’s historic Colonial ambiance.
The commission recommended the exceptions be granted, but City
Attorney James Hammes said those exceptions are not permitted by the
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