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September 2014

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The Sanctuary of Delafield condo development may turn into a subdivision

Project was surrounded by controversies

City of Delafield - A highly controversial and unsuccessful condominium development project on Main Street near Lapham Peak Road may be converted into a high-end single-family home subdivision.

Miller Marriot Custom Homes of Hartland is asking the Plan Commission for permission to convert The Sanctuary of Delafield into 21 single-family home lots. A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for May 30.

Chris Miller of Hartland told the Plan Commission last week that he intends to purchase the 14-acre site from Commerce State Bank, which took over the property after initiating foreclose proceedings against Trillium Development last year.

Miller said new homes in the subdivision are expected to be about 1,600 to 3,000 square feet and valued at between $450,000 and $550,000.

The site is served by a private community well and includes other utilities and amenities that were previously installed as part of the condominium project.

Plan Commissioner Kevin Fitzgerald predicted that the biggest issue in Miller's development proposal will be the installation of adequate landscape screening for the subdivision from other nearby homes.

"We are, in effect, throwing out the old plan," Fitzgerald added.

Trillium Development's owner, Jeffrey Christensen, purchased the land from the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese in 2007after the city granted him permission to develop about 20 high-end single-family condominiums on the heavily wooded site across from the city's Fireman's Park.

During the approval process, Christensen accused then Alderman Erv Sadowski of soliciting a bribe in return for approval of the project during a wiener roast hosted by the developer to introduce the project to city officials.

The Waukesha County District Attorney's office absolved Sadowski of any wrongdoing by concluding that the alderman was joking when he suggested to Christensen that the developer would have provide more than hot dogs and buns if he wanted approval of the project.

The relationship between Christensen and some city officials became so contentious that police officers were assigned to attend meetings where the project was being reviewed.

In 2010, Christensen and Trillium Development agreed to pay the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources $150,000 in fines for polluting Lake Nagawicka with sediment run off from the site while it was being excavated.

Only two of the 20 condominium sites were developed during the nearly six years of the project.

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