Lack of liquor could threaten Brown Deer Walmart

Retailer denied liquor permit by vote of 4-3

July 16, 2013

Brown Deer — Stunning village officials, Wal-Mart representatives and community members in attendance, the Village Board voted 4-3 Monday to deny liquor sales at the incoming Walmart Supercenter at the former Lowe's site at Brown Deer Road and 60th Street.

"No" votes came from trustees Andrea Weddle-Henning, a vocal opponent of the Walmart project, Tim Schilz, who voted against liquor at the Plan Commission last week, Terry Boschert and Bob Oates. Trustees Jeff Baker, Gary Springman, and Village President Carl Krueger voted for a one-aisle liquor section in the store.

Unknown at this point is whether the liquor prohibition will kill the entire project. Already Wal-Mart has made a number of concessions to conform to Brown Deer standards.

A Wal-Mart spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday morning.

"We're very focused on being succcessful for the long term," Deborah Tomczyk, an attorney representing Wal-Mart, said at the meeting Monday. "We think having a minor liquor store component is critical to that."

Competitive disadvantage

Throughout numerous meetings in the last few months, Tomczyk stressed that Wal-Mart needs liquor sales to compete with area grocers.

"She feels (the liquor prohibition) would put them at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace," said Planning and Zoning Director Nate Piotrowski, who spoke with Wal-Mart representatives Tuesday morning.

According to village officials, the only way the board could consider liquor would be if one of the four trustees who voted down the proposal submits a request for reconsideration in writing by the board's next meeting Aug. 5.

Trustee Schilz has been adamant that the retailer not be allowed to sell liquor, and Weddle-Henning has opposed a Brown Deer Walmart outright, so the task would likely fall to Oates or Boschert.

Oates declined to comment Tuesday morning as to whether he would be willing to submit the reconsideration. Boschert was unavailable for comment.

Liquor concerns

On Monday evening after the meeting, both Oates and Boschert contended that Walmart could be successful without liquor.

"The bigger impact is going to be on the community with alcohol sales," Boschert said Monday.

Like Schilz, they agreed that liquor could increase crime and possibly set a precedent where nearby Walgreens and gas stations — which were all denied liquor permits by the board in recent years — would come back and demand liquor permits of their own.

Responding to Schilz, village attorney John Fuchs said a Walmart liquor permit would not compel the board to grant permits to Walgreens or the gas stations.

Piotrowski said there might need to be some sort of give and take between Wal-Mart and trustees if the liquor permit is to be reconsidered.

"We're bouncing around some thoughts of what Wal-Mart could do to make their proposal more palatable," Piotrowski said. "It's a little early yet. Big picture-wise, there would need to be some sort of evolution in the proposal. Something that would need to be substantially different than what they're doing now."

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