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Walmart opponents file lawsuit against New Berlin

Attorney says group wants new hearing before Plan Commission

Members of Neighbors First New Berlin were the first in line to speak before the New Berlin City Council on May 14 when the Council was to consider the City's Plan Commisision to approve rezoning for the development of a Walmart Supercenter on Greenfield Avenue just east of Moreland Road.

Members of Neighbors First New Berlin were the first in line to speak before the New Berlin City Council on May 14 when the Council was to consider the City's Plan Commisision to approve rezoning for the development of a Walmart Supercenter on Greenfield Avenue just east of Moreland Road. Photo By C.T. Kruger

June 17, 2013

New Berlin — The group Neighbors First New Berlin, which opposes a plan to build a Walmart supercenter on Greenfield Avenue in New Berlin, has filed a lawsuit against the city alleging that legal notice of an initial hearing was not given the required 30 days in advance.

The hearing was held Jan. 7 before the Plan Commission. Subsequently, on May 6, the commission recommended on a 3-2 vote that the city change its Comprehensive Plan and zoning to clear the way for the Walmart. On May 14, the Common Council made those changes.

If Neighbors First prevails, it will get to argue its case again in front of the Plan Commission, which has two new members that joined after the January hearing, said the group's attorney, Dennis Grzezinski.

Despite the fact that both new members — Scott Biller and Alderwoman Laura Karvala — voted for the plan and zoning changes, the group hopes to change their minds through a full hearing experience, Grzezinski said. The group also will have more time to make its presentation more effective, he added.

The group's lawsuit filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court also names Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust.

The city was still awaiting formal notification of the lawsuit.

"We haven't been served with anything, yet," New Berlin Mayor Dave Ament said Monday.

But even if it had, Ament said he could not comment on a pending legal matter.

The Walmart, which would be built on Greenfield Avenue about a block east of Moorland Road, would sell groceries in addition to general merchandise.

The 16 acres had been zoned mostly single-family and was designated as single-family and multi-family residential in the city's 2020 Comprehensive Plan approved in December 2009. The Comp Plan was changed to shopping center, and zoning to commercial.

Based in part of the commission's recommendation, the full council voted 4-2 in favor. Voting in favor were Karvala and aldermen Dennis Horbinski, Ken Harenda and Joseph Stribl. Voting against were aldermen John Hopkins in whose district the Walmart would be located and Ron Seidl.

— Jane Ford-Stewart

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