By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – The village of Suamico closed the door on a proposed luxury storage unit development before the project could get off the ground at the Monday, June 4, meeting.
The board denied a conditional use permit application from Bayland Buildings, which would have allowed them to build 160 luxury storage units on vacant land on the southeast corner of East Deerfield Avenue and the future Woodfield Court.
The land is directly east of Interstate 41 south of Lineville Road.
The vote was split 3-3 after Trustee Dan Roddan abstained from discussion and the vote because he owns property near the site.
Trustees Steve Andrews, Mike Schneider and Jason Ward voted in favor, while trustees Michelle Eckert, Sky Van Rossum and village president Laura Nelson voted it against it.
The vote came after more than 90 minutes of discussion, which included five people who either work or live near the area speaking against the development.
The board was also sent initial renderings of what the development could look like, even though any finalized plans would still need to be approved by the board in a developer’s agreement, if the CUP passed.
“I understand the village wants to see development, I totally understand it and in the right place I think this is a great idea, but not here,” said Andy Vanderloop, a business owner in the area who lives in Pulaski. “If you’re patient and stay the course it will come. Why grant special exceptions to this development?… I’m not trying to be derogatory, it looks like a trailer park in this rendering.”
Van Rossum said no one was being granted special exceptions, because the board was just deciding on land use. In this situtation, due to zoning, to operate storage units a CUP is required.
“There’s nothing special being given here. This is conditional use permit, a conditional use permit for the property based on this potential development,” Van Rossum said.
Steve Dunks, zoning administrator, said the village previously allowed storage units as highway businesses, but it was changed to a conditional use because those units brought no taxable value to the table.
Dunks said the proposed storage units would add property tax value to the village and to the TIF district the units would have resided in.
The TIF along Deerfield Avenue was part of the same TIF along Lineville Road.
Dunks said the only reason the TIF did not fail is due to developments on Lineville Road.
He also said development has been slow to come to Deerfield Avenue.
“At what point do you say ‘Enough is enough and we need to get something moving there?’” Dunks said. “I’m not saying this is the ideal facility, but at some point we have to figure out how to drive this forward.”
Village Administrator Steve Kubacki echoed Dunks concerns, adding this was the best proposal he has seen for the property in seven years.
“Steve and I turned down other storage units there,” Kubacki said. “We did not want a typical storage facility there. This one is unique, it’s different, it’s at the higher end. If you play poker and you feel lucky, you can let these guys walk…”
Andrews agreed development in that location has been slow.
“I consider myself fairly new on the board, four years. But in my four years I’ve talked with our administrator numerous times, especially in my earlier years, about how can we get more growth on Deerfield, and you can’t make people come here,” Andrews said. “As much as I try to get things, and he’s expressed other avenues, no one is knocking on our door. Even if this passes tonight, it still has to pass the developer’s agreement. Anything shy of what it looks like now I would not support it.”
Nelson, who was against the development, called it “a sea of rooftops.”
“When you are passing a trailer park or passing a bank of motor homes, a site of motor homes or whatever you want to call it, you certainly do know what you are passing, be it well-kept and maintained, or ill-kept and not well maintained, you know what you’re passing. No matter the angle you’re coming at, that number of rooftops is not going to be missed,” Nelson said.
Ward said if developers for the land were interested, something else would be there by now.
“We had some unfortunate situations where people maybe got a little greedy with what they wanted and drove some development away,” Ward said. “Overall I think that side of the road is really only conducive only to smaller developments. I think a lot of people are waiting for that big box store coming in, and I don’t see it coming in. We’ve been waiting for that for quite a while.”
Van Rossum called the proposal a gamble, and ultimately the board could not muster enough votes to allow the permit.
“This isn’t a win for anybody, this is a roll of the dice for us, when we’re talking about this, this is a roll of the dice, this is not a win,” he said. “I may be knocking at your door a year from now saying ‘I’m so sorry we made a mistake, would you reconsider?’ But at this point I don’t think it’s the right decision.”