Bellevue board approves access point next to Costco
By John McCracken
BELLEVUE – The Bellevue village board voted last month to install a new, full roadway access point on Landmark Boulevard, green-lighting potential development next to Costco.
Trustees Tom Katers and Adam Gauthier voted against the proposal, while trustees Dave Kaster, John Sinclair and Village President Steve Soukup voted in favor of a full access point.
Before the vote, trustees heard from landowners, village staff and a traffic engineer.
Jeff Knudson, principal of transportation planning and traffic engineering for SRF Consulting Group, presented findings of a recent traffic study ordered by the village board.
Knudson said full access – unrestricted traffic movement from any direction – was the least preferred option while partial access – one or more traffic movements restricted – was the most popular.
“Partial access will last longer, be more flexible for future improvements and be safer,” he said.
The traffic analysis looked at current traffic volume during peak and non-peak hours, as well as what future volume could look like if the parcel was fully developed.
Knudson said any Landmark Boulevard entrance given to the Costco-adjacent lot will eventually cause undesirable operations, potentially blocking off the boulevard when multiple cars want to turn left into the lot.
“Eventually it will cause problems,” he said.
After village staff presented design concepts for full access cuts along Landmark Boulevard in April, the village board directed staff to conduct a traffic analysis in May.
Staff was urged to move fast with the study, as the owners of the land in question had a June 30 deadline to meet time constraints from two potential businesses hoping to purchase the land and gain full access to the parcel.
In May, Parcel co-owner Mike Tesar said two businesses were hoping to split the parcel into two lots.
At the June 23 meeting, Tesar said the deadline is no longer a factor, but the village should still grant full access.
The problem with partial access lies in the needs of the developers and past commitments made by the village.
Parcel co-owner Susan Tesar said at least one of the interested parties will back out of the deal if full access is not granted, and as developers, they’ll be stuck.
“It will leave us with 10 acres of land that has no access,” Tesar said.
The Van Rite family and Clover Venture, a development company associated with the family, own hundreds of acres in the region, including land off Monroe Road in Bellevue’s tax incremental district (TID) No. 1.
Susan and Mike Tesar, alongside Kaster, pointed to a 2013 agreement between the village, Clover Venture and the Tesars when the TID was created.
The 2013 agreement states as part of the village’s infrastructure improvements it will install a center median within Landmark Boulevard between Costco Way and Lime Kiln Road, which has been done, along with the recognition that turning access into the lot in question is necessary.
“We signed an agreement,” Kaster said.
Andrew Vissers, Bellevue director of community development, said the contract’s language could be considered ambiguous.
“One could read this and say yes to a full-access cut and guaranteeing it, or one could read this and say we didn’t install additional cuts because there was nothing installed at the time,” Vissers said.
During the planning process, Vissers’ office reached out to the Brown County highway department.
He said the installation of a full access point doesn’t align with the needs of the county, and Bellevue will be on the hook for any future changes.
According to the county, the current roundabout at Landmark Boulevard and Monroe Road will not accommodate increased traffic spurred by growth in the region.
However, Vissers said the real issue is Lime Kiln Road and what could happen with a new development.
“If traffic starts to back up onto Lime Kiln, there may be a push from the county to say, ‘You created this issue and it needs to be corrected,’” Vissers said.
The situation could be remedied if Costco allowed access to the parcel in question through one of its two Landmark Boulevard access points, but in April, Mike Tesar said Costco doesn’t want to allow traffic not associated with its store to use the access point.
Susan Tesar said her family owns other village land they want to develop, but not granting full access to the parcel in question would cause the family to rethink development of that land.
“Come hell or high water, I feel that we have made an agreement with the (village),” Tesar said. “You want us to follow our agreement, I’m asking you to follow your agreement.”
Board members inquired about solutions and traffic pattern changes, such as installing traffic lights at the access point, getting rid of the bike lane for more width or future congestion alleviated by the South Bridge Connector project, to make full access a reality.
“It really comes down to what we as a village board have as a vision for this road,” Katers said.