Town of Delafield code changes opposed
Plan Commission to consider opposition

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 1, 2019

 Delafield Town Hall was packed with residents who oppose a proposed
commercial zoning code change in the town.

Kelly Smith/Special to The Freeman

TOWN OF DELAFIELD — The creation of a commercial mixed-use zoning district along Interstate 94 is going to be the subject of “a robust discussion” that will likely lead to changes in the proposal during a Tuesday Plan Commission meeting.

Commission Chairman Kevin Fitzgerald is predicting more restrictive building height and open space regulations will be added and restaurants will not be allowed in the newly created district.

“We may also want to take another look at lighting (regulations),” he added a few days after a Nov. 20 public hearing.

The proposal defines regulations for light industrial, medical, commercial office, retail, restaurant and multi family residential use in the district.

It also requires developers to submit a comprehensive master development plan before a site can be approved.

More than 60 residents in a standing room only crowd attended the Town Hall public hearing, nearly all of them opposed to creating a commercial zoning district.

Leading the opposition were former Town Chairman Paul Kanter and former Supervisor Clare Dundon, who have a combined 40 years’ experience in town government.

During their administration the town adopted the motto “A perfect environment; residential, recreational, responsible” and established itself as a high-end rural residential community with relatively little commercial development despite the economic booms of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“We worked very hard and diligently during those economic booms to make sure we had development that everyone in the town could live with,” said Dundon.

Former Delafield Town Chairman Paul Kanter and former Town Supervisor Clare Dundon confer during a public hearing about their opposition to a proposed commercial zoning change in the town.
Kelly Smith/Special to The Freeman

‘This is a town’

“We are for the rural quality of life,” added Eric Weidig, a 15-year resident of the town attending his first Town Hall meeting.

“My wife and I moved here because of the residential character. This is a town. It is not a city. It is not a village.

“There is no (municipal) sewer, there is no (municipal) sewer,” he concluded.

However, a relatively recently-elected town chairman and Board of Supervisors say they face some new challenges that require a mixed-use zoning district.

The existing zoning code does not provide adequate regulations for a 150-acre commercial development that might be built on Thomas Farm after it’s sold, according to town officials.

The family is trying to sell the farm that stretches along Golf Road between Glen Cove and Elmhurst roads.

“Under the present zoning, it could be 150 acres of retail,” according to Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald, an attorney, warns that because of changes in state law the town needs to adopt a mixed-use code that will enable it to regulate commercial, retail, and multi-family developments.

In addition, Chairman Ron Troy says the town needs to expand its tax base in order to generate more revenues to pay for the rising cost of police, fire and emergency medical services in the town.

Troy argues encouraging commercial development on town frontage roads along the interstate can increase property value in the town without threatening the rural residential character of the remainder of the town.

Kanter and Dundon rebutted that more commercial development will result in higher taxes to raise revenues needed to fund government services for the developments.

“Do not be mislead by the siren song of expanding the tax base,” Kanter argued.

Town resident Kathy Gutenkunst, a lawyer who specializes in local government law, expressed concerns about some of the definitions of uses in the proposed code and added that allowing high-density commercial residential development in the town “scares me.”

Gutenkunst said she could support senior living residential developments, but not apartments.

Denise Reese questioned why the farm land could not become a high-end, large-lot residential development like much of the town.

“I have always known the Thomas Farm would not always be the Thomas Farm,” she said.

“But I thought what would go there would be houses like mine,” she added.