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New Berlin OKs City Center apartments, delays decision on Walmart

Walmart delayed to address objections

Feb. 5, 2013

New Berlin - The two most controversial proposed developments in New Berlin both hit the Plan Commission on Monday and one came to a resolution.

The 75-unit apartment building proposed for the New Berlin City Center won Plan Commission approval. Minnesota-based developer MSP Real Estate can now put shovel to ground.

The other development is a Walmart supercenter proposed for 15205-15375 W. Greenfield Ave. that the Plan Commission tabled Monday at the request of Walmart attorney Deborah Tomczyk. Walmart needs more time to address objections that residents brought up, she wrote to the commission. But Walmart plans to return at the commission's March 4 meeting.

"Walmart representatives have now had the benefit of citizen comments at both the Jan. 7 public hearing and a neighborhood meeting held Jan. 23," Tomczyk wrote. "Many attendees raised thoughtful issues which our team feels warrant further study."

Even though the Walmart proposal was tabled, many residents spoke to the commission about it, mainly repeating concerns raised earlier about traffic, making area flooding problems worse, light and noise.

Robert Christie, a potential Walmart neighbor, held up a photograph of a brightly lighted Walmart supercenter taken from the yard of a neighbor of the Muskego store and said, "This is what you want to put in my back yard."

Zoran Markovich of Carriage Lane who also spoke against the Walmart at the Jan. 7 hearing that took some three hours with no one speaking in favor, pleaded, "Listen to us."

MSP listened to the Plan Commission when it denied its plan for the 74-unit apartment building at 14900 Library Lane and made adjustments.

On a 5-1 vote, the commission felt those adjustments were enough. Casting the only negative vote was Marta Broge who continued her objection that the apartments would add too much traffic to an already difficult traffic situation on National Avenue.

To win approval, MSP moved a parking lot and provided access from the apartment building to National Avenue. Moving the lot also made the remaining undeveloped lot on National Avenue bigger so it could support more retail development, something the city wants along National.

Giving direct access to National Avenue would ease traffic flow by not funneling all cars from the new apartment building onto Michelle Witmer Way. Under the original plan, all cars would have had to take Library Lane to Michelle Witmer and then out to National Avenue.

"I like this a lot better," Mayor Jack Chiovatero said.

The addition of the 75-unit apartment building will fill up the City Center in terms of multifamily housing. The City Center is located basically on both sides of National Avenue from Moorland to Coffee roads. Single-family homes are still planned in the southern portion of the site.

The apartment building is the second phase of MSP's Deer Creek development. The first phase was the controversial project consisting of three 34-unit buildings of workforce development apartments for lower-income residents and one 34-unit senior citizen building. Controversy over workforce housing landed the city and developer in court.

The proposed 75-unit building would have 15 workforce apartments. The rest would have rents at the market value.

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