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Meijer's permit will include Sussex code exceptions

Village approval of project expected early this year

Village of Sussex - The village staff has seven working days to put together the initial draft of a complex proposed conditional use permit which will address at least a half dozen exceptions to the village code in order to permit the construction and operations of a nearly 200,000-square-foot Meijer supercenter on the southeast corners of the intersection of Highways 164 and K (Lisbon Road).

Those exceptions will include waiving or reducing the required 600-foot buffer between the commercial development site and adjacent land set aside as a future residential district, according to staff report issued in November.

The plan commission will also have address that about 17 percent of the site is set aside for green or open space while 25 percent is required by the village code.

The site also does not meet parking space requirements and a parking lot along a proposed extended Executive Drive and does not meet a code-required 40-foot setback, according to the staff report.

In addition, the driveway entrance to the gas station is located too close to the an access point onto Highway K and the entrance drive exceeds the 32 feet permitted in the code, according to the staff report.

It is not unusual for conditional use permits to address exemptions to the village code, according to Assistant Development Director Casey Fluet.

One of the advantages of a conditional use permit is that it gives both the municipality and the developer more flexibility in creating terms and conditions for the construction and operations of a business or development.

Fluet said that in addition to approving the proposed conditional use permit, the Plan Commission will also have to issue separate findings regarding the justifications for the code exemptions included in the permit.

For example, according to the staff report, "The Plan Commission may also reduce the parking requirements if a traffic study at the maximum site development finds that a lower parking space requirement would be sufficient to meet the needs of the site and said modification is consistent with the Design Standards and other duty approved plans."

The developers have submitted a traffic study to the Plan Commission.

The staff report points out that Meijer's meets the green space requirement if the commission permits them to include an outlet that is used for storm water control in the green space calculations. The report also points out that a giant hill with a wooded area at the top of the hill would assist in screening the retail development from the adjacent residential district.

An initial draft of the proposed conditional use permit is expected to be presented to the Plan Commission at its Jan. 17 meeting. However, the staff would like to complete the work in time for it to be included with the meeting agenda scheduled to be posted on Jan. 11, according to Fluet.

The Plan Commission instructed the staff to prepare the draft document following the conclusion of an eight-hour public hearing on the project conducted on Nov. 28 and Dec. 20.

During the Dec. 20 meeting, Village Administrator Jeremy Smith predicted a draft copy of the permit would be available for commission review in January with a vote expected in February.

However, Meijer's attorney Brian Randall predicted the village approval process would take at least a month longer. However, the village's approval will be contingent on approvals also from various state and federal agencies.

"I work for Jeremy so if he says he wants it ready for the January meeting we are going to do everything we can to get it ready in January. A lot of it is boilerplate language and some of the other details Jeremy has already worked on. I would like to have it ready by the 11th but if we don't make it by the 11th, I am confident we can have it time for the meeting on the 17th," said Fluet.

Plan Commission member Pat Tetzlaff, who is also village trustee, expressed confidence in the staff.

"I have a lot of confidence in them because they are an incredibly good staff," she said.

"If something comes up that we have to take more time on, we will. This is not something we want to rush," she added.

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