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September 2014


Restaurant proposal turned away third time

It’s two steps forward and one step back for Tom Davis, owner of 221 W Wisconsin Avenue, who was turned away from his third meeting with the Village of Pewaukee Planning Commission.

“I am very much encouraged by the enthusiasm and interest in the idea but unfortunately I think we still have to ask the applicant to come up with more ideas to somehow secure some solid, onsite parking,” President Tom Calder said.

While the meeting was just a consultation and no action or motion was required by the commissioners, Davis was asked to find more solutions for his parking dilemma and also return with signed agreements for a few of his current ideas. 

Davis, and his business partner Chris Trifilio, have hopes to put a restaurant on the site of a former gas station. They already have three Milwaukee-based restaurants interested in operating out of that space. According to a formula, which Village Planner Mary Censky explained exists in some form within all communities, they would ideally need 34 onsite parking spaces.

There’s been discussion on a 27 space compromise if the employees agree to park offsite. Censky did point out that this would be hard for Pewaukee to enforce if the restaurant is noncompliant.

Davis said that he’s secured some additional parking from nearby businesses: John Laimon at Smokey's Baitshop is willing to add 10 spaces, while Bob Zimmerman is also prepared to add five more spaces near Becky's Blissful Bakery. Davis has been asked to bring binding documents from these businesses back to the commission and to the village attorney for review. 

Davis also expressed some interest in introducing valet parking, adding that at least one of his potential vendors already offers this service in Milwaukee.

Even so, not all commissioners were convinced. Calder said that it’s difficult to depend on the availability of those borrowed spaces because, as private properties, there’s no guarantee that the same owner will still have the parking lot five or ten years later.

“I just have to say, if we were voting tonight and you could bring in all these different things, I still couldn’t vote for it,” Tom Reilly said.

During the hour long conversation, Davis countered and said that parking issues mostly exist in the summer. He also pointed out that many small businesses don't operate in the evening and beach-goers leave around four-thirty or five o'clock -- a restaurant wouldn't be busy until the evening hours.

Davis also reported to the commission that he’s working with Canada Pacific Rail to procure about twelve more spaces at the northern edge of the property. Those conversations, in fact, are very positive and he expects to have an agreement in the works for the next meeting (it still needs to go throught the village planner).

“I was amazed, frankly, being a large international company and me being the little peanut here at the corner of a piece of property, I was rather expecting considerable pushback -- absolutely nothing. We’re very encouraged by that,” Davis said.

Davis plans to return to next month’s planning commission.

“I think what it’s really going to come down to is to what degree are we willing to veer from (that formula)? On this whole property, regardless of whether or not it stays with the Davis’ or someone else takes it and someone else builds it – to what degree are we prepared to recommend to the board to say that we’re varying from that?” Craig Roberts asked.

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