Walmart (again) gets New Berlin's approval
Supercenter aims for 2015 opening date; opponents haven't given up just yet
New Berlin — With zoning and land-use issues again set aside by the city, Walmart officials anticipate the new store on Greenfield Avenue off Moorland Road could open in early 2015.
However, not everyone thinks it's a done deal just yet. Technically, a lawsuit remains in place challenging the city's initial approval of the zoning change in January.
Regardless, Walmart is proceeding with its plans, which have now received final approval from the city in whole, following the Common Council's decision this week to re-affirm its earlier support of the change from residential to commercial zoning and a related alteration of the city's 2020 comprehensive land-use plan.
In with the new
Lisa Nelson, Walmart senior manager for public affairs and governmental relations, subsequently issued a forward-looking statement about the development.
"We look forward to providing our customers a convenient shopping destination that offers a variety of value-priced merchandise and healthy food options for families," Nelson said in an email.
The new 150,000-square-foot store will have general merchandise and groceries. The old 105,000-square-foot store in the New Berlin City Center had only limited groceries, in comparison, Nelson noted.
She confirmed that the old store will close when its lease expires in 2016.
A lot of work will have to get done between now and the planned opening. Much of the wooded site will be cleared and the hill it sits on will be leveled off before construction of the building itself can actually start.
Despite the city's recent approval and Walmart's statement, the opponents of the planned development haven't given up hope.
"There's still a lawsuit out there," said Joselyn Bubolz, who is active in a residents' group opposing the Walmart.
The group, Citizens First New Berlin, filed a lawsuit this summer alleging that the January public hearing on the proposed rezoning and comprehensive plan change didn't have proper public notice.
Before the court could deal with that claim, however, the city held a second public hearing, properly noticed, before the Plan Commission on Aug. 12. That body again recommended the changes to the council, which confirmed its original 4-2 vote Tuesday.
Voting against changing the zoning and 2020 Comprehensive Plan were aldermen John Hopkins and Ron Seidl.
The proposed Walmart will be in Hopkins' 1st District and he said his constituents overwhelmingly oppose it.
Seidl has expressed the view that he doesn't see enough reason to change the comprehensive plan, which he previously noted was compiled with a lot of effort and input from residents and businesses.
Bubholz said she was also disappointed the council didn't discuss two limitations that were brought up before and repeated this month — that Walmart not be allowed to operate 24 hours and that gun sales be prohibited.
Gun sales could not be prohibited because the city has no ordinance restricting them, city attorney Mark Blum said at the Plan Commission hearing. But Bubhoz said Greendale doesn't have a gun ordinance either and yet got Walmart to agree not to sell them.
Over the months of debate, the majority of aldermen has expressed the view that a commercial use for the land, which lies about a block east of Moorland Road, is proper. That is in contrast to the zoning that called for single-family homes and the city's 2020 Comprehensive Plan that called for residential development.
In supporting the proposal, some aldermen have pointed out that commercial developments across Greenfield Avenue in Brookfield and the vacant land that will be developed as commercial property next door in New Berlin make any chance for residential development remote.
Alderman John Fillar abstained. He explained that because he didn't join the council until nine days after the panel had originally approved the zoning and planning issues in May, "I wanted the same council members to have the same chance to decide without my interference."
Fillar noted that the issue only came back to the council because of a technical glitch.
Mayor David Ament recused himself because his wife works for Walmart.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- News & Notes: Dec. 2
- Police Report: Dec. 2
- An early look at election filings in New Berlin
- Memories descend upon WWII paratrooper in New Berlin
- Muskego School Board president won't seek re-election
- News & Notes: Nov. 28
- Police Report: Nov. 25
- Some names paved the way for New Berlin's history
- New Berlin Christmas Parade comes earlier in 2013
- Company emerges bigger and better in New Berlin