Brown Deer holding to village standards on 'North Shore Walmart'

Plan Commissioners tighten regulations on Walmart Supercenter

July 9, 2013

Brown Deer — Plan Commissioners on Monday continued to tighten regulations on the incoming Walmart Supercenter at the former Lowe's location at 60th Street and Brown Deer Road, saying the retailer needs to hold to Brown Deer's standards if it wants to play nice with neighbors and attract the sought after "North Shore customer."

Notable conditions added to the Walmart development agreement by the Plan Commission, which the Village Board will consider next week, include rolling back Walmart's standard 24-hour availability to match the village ordinance of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; a complete prohibition on gun, weaponry and ammunition sales; requirements for additional parking lot landscaping work, a new pedestrian way connecting the store to Brown Deer Road, twice-yearly cleanings of nearby Beaver Creek, and permanent cart corrals; and a sound-retaining wall spanning the entire length of the north side of the building.

After some debate between residents, commissioners and Walmart representatives, the commission on a 5-2 vote approved a conditional use permit for a one-aisle liquor section. The liquor store permit, as well as approved permits for a garden center and grocery store, will also come before the Village Board next week.

Since the Village Board has already approved the financial agreements that compel Lowe's to pay off a good share of the village's $2.4 million investment in the site, and locks in a minimum property value for Walmart to pay taxes on, the remaining work and agreements beyond what was approved Monday will mostly consist of details, said Planning and Zoning Director Nate Piotrowski.

Marketing to the North Shore

Deborah Tomczyk, an attorney representing Wal-Mart, said the North Shore is under served by retailers like Wal-Mart. She said the plan is to stock more upscale merchandise and focus on fresh and organic foods to appeal to the coveted "North Shore customer."

"It's a great opportunity for us and for the Brown Deer community," Tomczyk said.

In an attempt to maintain an upscale feel, commissioners included the landscaping, parking lot work and permanent cart corrals.

"We're asking for some aesthetics," commissioner Jeff Baker said, "I guess some North Shore amenities to our Walmart."

Several of the residents in the crowd scoffed at Tomczyk's description of what the retailer is referring to as the "North Shore Walmart," later voicing their skepticism.

"Little Brown Deer is never really part of the North Shore, until it's convenient to be part of the North Shore," said resident Fran Jones, adding of potential noise, traffic, and disruptions, "It's just not conducive to our neighborhood."

Piotrowski pointed out the operational agreement requires trash pick up on the property and nearby bus stop.

After several neighbors to the Walmart site voiced concerns over noise from delivery trucks, Hoffmann added the requirement of a sound-retaining wall.

"I think that would solve a lot of the problems on the north side of the building," Hoffmann said.

Liquor contested

Referencing a number of area grocery stores with liquor departments, Tomczyk said Walmart needs to sell liquor to compete.

"It's critical to our success that we can have a liquor license," Tomczyk said. "It would put us at a real disadvantage if we weren't able to offer the same products our competitors do."

Several residents weighed in against liquor sales, pointing to crime as a result. Commissioner and trustee Tim Schilz said the Village Board needs to stay the course charted by recent decisions to deny liquor sales to nearby gas stations and the Walgreens abutting the Walmart site.

Other commissioners disagreed, empathizing with the need to compete. Baker said liquor sales are "a component of grocery and Wisconsin culture."

Hoffmann referred to a liquor store as a "crime magnet," voting against it alongside Schilz.

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