This drawing depicts where a fence was proposed along the north property line next to the parking area for the planned Aldi store at 2492 S. Oneida St.
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – A request to install a fence along the north property line where a new Aldi grocery store is planned next to the Barnes & Noble bookstore on the 2400 block of South Oneida Street was denied Tuesday, July 10, by the Ashwaubenon Plan Commission.
Village Building Inspector Todd Gerbers said Nifong Realty, which manages the property, sought the alteration to the site’s planned unit development because of numerous vehicles parking in the lot and individuals walking across the parking lot curbing to access the businesses in the adjoining development to the north.
“Now with Aldi’s going in there, I believe it’s in their lease that they have to have so many parking stalls,” Gerbers said. “Therefore, they’re kind of starting to crack down on the parking.”
Though the tenants to the north at 2476 S. Oneida St. have talked to their employees and patrons to try to minimize the amount of traffic parking on the adjoining property and walking over, Gerbers noted the parking issues have continued.
Gerbers said the Plan Commission was asked to consider approving a 4-foot-high fence along the north property line that would extend from the building to near the sidewalk along South Oneida, approximately 310 feet long, and be in an area where the fence likely would get damaged.
“From a staff perspective, we do not support a fence at that location, because it does restrict access back and forth between properties,” he said. “As everybody knows, when you’re in a retail center like this with multiple tenants, you are going to be walking between developments.”
Village President Mary Kardoskee said she was in the Barnes & Noble parking lot on the day of the meeting and in a minute and a half witnessed three people who parked there walking over to the other mall to the north where she could see 10 open parking spots.
“I don’t think when people come down Oneida Street, I don’t think that they can see that opening for the driveway because of that (ground-mounted) sign,” Kardoskee said. “And then I think they turn into the Barnes & Noble driveway and they can’t get back to the other strip mall parking.”
Kardoskee said she previously suggested that a curb cut be placed between the two parking lots so that vehicles could access the adjacent areas.
“I just see, if a fence would go up there, it’s just going to hurt both businesses, because anybody who would want to leave the strip mall to the north and walk over to Barnes & Noble and drink a cup of coffee and read a magazine during lunch isn’t going to be able to do it,” she said. “They’re going to have to go all the way around the fence. So I agree with staff. I just can’t support this. I would support a curb cut there. I think that would be a much better solution to the problem.”
Other commission members agreed with Kardoskee.
“(Installing a fence is) not a good business decision on this, regardless of whose idea is it,” said Trustee Gary Paul. “The parking issue, I think, will be eliminated once Aldi’s open and they fill that parking up with their own customers.”
Trustee Ken Butkowski suggested having a curb cut between parking lots along with signage pointing to the north from the Barnes & Noble lot.
“(The fence is) just not going to look like something that we want in that location at all,” Butkowski said.
Gerbers also noted that when he went to the site, he witnessed an SUV that went in the wrong parking lot and drove over the curb to access the correct one.
“Not something we’d recommend,” Gerbers said. “It is private property, so there was nothing the village could do on it.”
In unanimously voting to deny the request for a fence, commission members included in their motion a suggestion that the developer explore the possibility of a curb cut between the two parking lots.