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Meijer proposal creating new border war between Lisbon, Sussex

Officials: Process may have violated border agreement

Town of Lisbon - Town officials say the Village of Sussex may have violated a border agreement between the two communities because of the process village officials have followed in considering approvals for a nearly 200,000-square-foot Meijer's grocery and household supercenter proposed at Highways K ( Lisbon Road) and 164.

In an apparent effort to resolve the dispute, village officials have scheduled a joint meeting with the town and village Planning Committee at 6 p.m. Dec. 17 at Village Hall. The meeting is three days before the village Plan Commission is expected to resume a public hearing on a proposed conditional-use permit for the project.

Last week's hearing was continued until Dec. 20 after an attorney for neighbors objecting to the project asked for more time to review documents and possibly have the opportunity to cross examine public officials and citizens testifying at the public hearing.

The attorney and Lisbon officials asserted the border agreement between the communities required that the proposal be presented to the joint Planning Committee before the village agreed to change its land-use plan, conduct public hearings and consider Plan Commission approval of the project.

The joint Planning Committee consists of representatives of both municipalities and was created as part of a 2002 border agreement.

The committee's recommendations are advisory.

"The committee's recommendations may be advisory, but the process (outlined in the border agreement) is not," said Milwaukee attorney Joseph R. Cincotta, who represents two families whose acreage is near the site.

Cincotta outlined a litany of concerns his clients have about the project including its size, potential impact on surrounding residential real estate values, stormwater drainage, traffic, noise and potential increases in crime because the supercenter and adjoining gas station/ convenience center would operate 24 hours a day.

He asserted the project is contrary to the village's land -use plan andthat village officials violated the border agreement by failing to present the proposal to the joint committee before various village governing bodies, including the Plan Comission and Village Board, began deliberations on the proposal.

Some of those same concerns were echoed by Town of Lisbon Engineer John Stigler of Jahnke and Jahnke and Associates.

Stigler argued that any action on zoning and conditional-use permits for the project by the Village Board or Plan Commission would be "premature and a violation of, and inconsistent with, the boundary agreement" because the proposal has not been presented to the joint committee.

The proposed 24-acre site is on nearly 50 acres of farmland in the Town of Lisbon at the southeast corner of Highways 164 and K. The intersection is expected to be expanded to four lanes and four turn lanes within 800 feet east and west of the intersection.

According to the border agreement, the property is expected to be "detached" from the Town of Lisbon and "attached" to the Village of Sussex so it can be developed with village utilities, including sewer and water.

Village Administrator Jeremy Smith said during the hearing that village officials had unsuccessfully attempted to schedule a joint Planning Committee meeting with the town.

Smith asserted that Stiegler's comments were in violation of the border agreement because the town stipulated in the agreement it would not oppose detachment and attachment of the parcel.

However, Lisbon Town Chairman Matt Gehrke emphasized in a later interview that the town was not objecting to the detachment of the land or the proposal.

He said the town was taking step to ensure that its rights as outlined in the border agreement were protected.

"At the end of the day, the land is going to be detached from the town and attached to the village," Gehrke said.

He added, however, that town officials were concerned about potential stormwater control issues and the existence of a "big box" store in the region.

"During the (border agreement) negotiations, there was general agreement between the village and town participants that big-box stores were not desired with the joint planning area," Stigler said.

More than a dozen residents from both communities testified during the four-hour public hearing Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the Sussex Community Center.

Most of the opposition was expressed by the town residents who argued the size of the store and its proposed 24-hour operations were contrary to the village's land-use policy of trying to maintain a small-town atmosphere and emphasizing redevelopment of its downtown business district.

Most of the proponents of the project were Village of Sussex residents or business owners who argued the project was consistent with plans for commercial development on Highway 164 between Lisbon Road and Silver Spring Drive.

They predicted the supercenter would lead to the development of new businesses in the neighborhood and would provide 200 to 250 jobs in the community, in addition to expanding the community tax base.

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