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New Berlin neighbors silence concerns about traffic, but worry about business-related noise

June 9, 2014

New Berlin — A victory was won by New Berlin residents striving to avoid more cut-through traffic in their neighborhood as the New Berlin Plan Commission last week refused to let a driveway to connect a proposed retail development with a neighborhood road.

That proposed driveway would be inviting cut-through traffic into the subdivision west of Moorland Road, residents said at a recent public hearing on the rezoning the proposed retail development needs. The rezoning would affect two homes that are now zoned residential, changing that to commercial. The homes on Moorland Road just north of the Starbucks at National Avenue would be razed and a retail building built.

New Berlin Mayor Dave Ament said he agrees with the residents.

"I had doubts right from the beginning," he said after last week's meeting. "The developers had ideas about how to keep cars from turning left onto Churchview Drive at the north end of the proposed development and into the neighborhood.

"None of which to me was satisfactory to control that. That is not acce Sptable. They get enough cut-through traffic as it is. So, at least we're not making it worse."

While cut-through traffic on Churchview Drive was the residents' major concern at the hearing on the proposed rezoning, other serious concerns remain.

The main one now is a proposed drive-through at Starbucks who live in the line of homes behind Starbucks and other businesses say will be disturbing.

Kris Silas said after the meeting that she remembers all the noise from the Hardee's restaurant that used to be about where Starbucks is today.

"We'd hear, 'Hi, welcome to Hardee's can we take you order?'" all the time, she said. And her home was not even directly behind Hardee's.

"When Hardee's was here, we had a lot of noise," she said.

But unlike Hardee's, Starbucks opens at 5 a.m. most days.

"How would you like to hear that at 5 a.m.?" Silas asked. "It's wrong."

The developer proposes landscaping to help absorb and deflect sound, but she and other neighbors say that won't work.

The only real answer is no drive-through or pointing the speakers away from homes, Silas said.

"That's definitely a legitimate concern," Ament said.

If the developer gets the proposed rezoning and still wants a drive-through for Starbucks, "We could make it clear to them to design it so it does not create an issue," Ament said.

That would probably mean directing the sound away from homes or controlling the sound some other way, he said.

The developer may not be able to work out traffic patterns in the congested parking lot to accommodate a line at a drive-up window and the normal parking and pedestrian needs, Ament said.

The plan commission will consider the issue when the developer submits plans or asks for concept approval, he said.

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