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Illegal dances force closure of New Berlin bicycle shop

Feb. 18, 2013

New Berlin - The Trailside Cycle bicycle shop, 1849 S. Calhoun Road, was closed Feb. 5 after New Berlin revoked its conditional-use permit for allegedly holding rave (dance) parties for young people.

The Plan Commission took the action following a hearing mainly because of a concern that the building doesn't have enough fire safety measures to keep large crowds safe. It also revoked the permit because the Trailside owner was told he could not have dances.

At the hearing, Nikki Jones, New Berlin planning services manager, said Trailside's original permit in 2010 was for a bike shop and a bar/restaurant. The Plan Commission didn't approve dances because it needed more information as to fire protection and other matters, she said.

Trouble began in 2011

The Plan Commission revoked the bar/restaurant permit in March 2011 after confirming that rave parties were being held there, Jones said.

The parties began again in 2012, she said.

The most recent one was held by two men upstairs where two apartments are located. A police officer testified that he saw beer and mixed drinks being sold and $5 admission being collected at the door to pay for the DJ. The officer also said Trailside owner Hans Schroeder told him that night that he knew about the alcohol.

The city had warned Schroeder several times to stop holding the parties, said Corliss Tischer, code compliance specialist. Schroeder was found guilty in September 2011 in municipal court for holding a party without a permit, she said.

New Berlin city attorney Mark Blum said the owner created circumstances that could have resulted in injuries.

Commissioner Brian Felda said the way the city's warnings went unheeded is unprecedented, as far as he knows.

"I'm stunned. After being on the commission for 15 years, I've never seen anything like this," he said.

Good intentions?

Wayne Schroeder, Hans' father, said all but the last rave were attempts to revive a nonalcoholic dance club. There was good music, he said, "and people were enjoying themselves no end."

Mayor Jack Chiovatero suggested that not everyone was following the rules, based on the drug use his daughter saw as she briefly attended a rave. She left immediately, Chiovatero said.

Hans Schroeder didn't comment after the meeting on the commission's vote or say whether he would appeal. But he did say that, after he started Trailside Cycle in Muskego in 1999, he spent a lot of money to renovate the New Berlin building, including sound-dampening and updated windows.

He described the last party to which the police officer came as a private party. It was attended by 60 or 70 people who were Facebook friends, he said.

Schroeder said it was unfair to penalize him for a party he did not host.

"There were a number of instances given that things could have improved, but didn't, and I don't know why," commission member Marta Broge countered.

She said it is too bad the city is losing the bike shop: "It's a great asset to the community."

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