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Rezoning approved, but Howard convenience store on hold

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – A rezoning request for a triangle-shaped property at the intersection of Shawano Avenue, Woodland Road and Sherwood Street received final approval June 28 by the village board.

However, plans to develop the 3.8-acre site into a convenience store/gas station are on hold.

Board members backed a recommendation from the Plan Commission to rezone the parcel from A-1 Exclusive Agriculture to B-1 Business.

But there were no project plans to present to the board, because the commission tabled action a week earlier on a conditional use request from Bayland Buildings.

The request was on behalf of Chuck Panure to construct a convenience store/gas station with a fuel island, car wash and the ability to rent out additional retail space.

Village President Burt McIntyre, who chairs the commission, said there wasn’t enough building detail provided for the commission “to really understand the quality of construction and the type of construction, the entrance and exit from there.”

“The general concept was understood, but we just needed more detail on the quality of the construction,” he said.

Regardless of whether a convenience store is built on the site, Community Development Director Dave Wiese said the commission recommended the property near the interchange of County FF and State Highway 29 be rezoned B-1 because it is shown that way on the village’s comprehensive plan.

“The zoning right now doesn’t fit exclusive (agriculture) use,” he said. “(The commission) recommended rezoning the parcel to business. Now whether or not the conditional use gets approved for a gas station is another story, but then there would still be permitted uses once it’s rezoned to business… If there are business uses that can go in there permitted, they just have to meet the ordinance requirements.”

The commission held a public hearing June 21 when it heard from neighbors who objected to a convenience store on the site with the surrounding area being residential.

Office building, storage units

The board approved a commission recommendation for a preliminary planned development district (PDD) requested by Velp Avenue Storage to rezone B-2 Highway Commercial parcels at 1745 and 1751 Velp Ave.

The PDD is being sought by Amy and Andy Cote and Steve Van Straten, who purchased the property, to construct a new retail/office building and mini-warehouse/storage units. Van Straten also owns the adjacent Avenue Bar.

The project calls for a 14,000-square-foot office building to house NV Technologies Fire & Security with 38,000 square feet of storage units behind the office building.

Wiese said the PDD, for which final plans must be subsequently reviewed by the commission and board for approval, is being sought because it allows different uses and the village no longer allows mini-warehouses in business zones.

Height increases

The board also approved a change in the village code to increase the maximum building height in the B-1 zoning district from 40 to 80 feet.

Wiese said the reason for the height increase is because the potential exists for the village to see denser development in some future building proposals.

“Is it a density issue? Well, it probably is, but there’s another factor driving it in the future,” he said. “If you look at our Village Center or even our UnitedHealth building, those districts already have a maximum of 80 (feet), so when our planning commission was reviewing it, in lieu of that, we may have something coming forward the way that the Village Center is being constructed and the buildings that are going there…”

Another ordinance amendment the board approved increases the maximum height allowed for fences in a front yard or corner side yard from 3 to 4 feet.

Wiese said a discrepancy in Howard’s code regarding pools and fence requirements was brought to the village’s attention with fencing for pools required to be 4 feet in height to provide a barrier for safety, but the fence setback regulations only allowed a 3-foot maximum in a front or corner side yard.

Street renamed

The board approved a resolution renaming an isolated and disconnected portion of Shawano Avenue to Elmhurst Avenue.

The resolution states the portion of Shawano Avenue from River Grove Avenue (Duck Creek) to Elmhurst Avenue is being renamed Elmhurst Avenue for public safety reasons to reduce confusion and delays for emergency responders.

Marley Street special assessments

The board voted 8-1 to approve a resolution declaring an intent to issue special assessments along Marley Street.

Trustee Craig McAllister, who has been critical of special assessments for road reconstruction projects, cast the lone dissenting vote.

The Village of Howard, along with Brown County and the Town of Pittsfield, planned a joint project for next year to reconstruct Marley Street with an urban boulevard roadway from approximately 250 feet north of the intersection with Millwood Court to the intersection of County C in Pittsfield.

Public Works Director Geoff Farr said the urban section of roadway, for which work is slated to begin next April and be constructed in connection with building the County VV/State Highway 29 diamond interchange, will include curb and gutter, storm sewer, sidewalks and concrete driveways.

Farr said 14 properties in Howard along the project area would be subject to special assessments for the improvements, with nine required to connect to municipal utilities.

“This preliminary resolution… just directs staff to finish planning specifications, obtain bids and come back to the village board for approval at a later date,” he said.

Farr said he expects road construction along Marley Street will take place next year from April to November.

The village has $2 million budgeted in capital projects and enterprise funds for the Marley Street reconstruction project.

Johnny Junk granted new license

After previously tabling the matter in response to complaints about the facility, trustees agreed June 28 to issue Johnny Junk Recycling a new salvage yard license at 2201 Badgerland Dr.

The existing license was set to expire June 30, but the board held off issuing a new one because Johnny Junk didn’t have proper fencing around the facility as required, along with citizen complaints about metal debris being left on the road and problems with parking congestion in the area.

Village Attorney Bob Gagan said Johnny Junk contacted a fencing contractor to install a fence, but the fence wasn’t slated to be put in for another two to three weeks.

Ryan Graff, an attorney representing Johnny Junk, confirmed the fence would be installed July 14-20.

Graff said the facility is trying to be a good neighbor and would be interested in hearing any other complaints or issues about its operation.

McIntyre asked the company to work with haulers who bring in scrap metal to the facility, so metal debris won’t fall on the roadway.

“I know you can’t make a rule or anything, but encourage them to secure these loads a lot better,” he said. “I’ve seen it more than once where these things have really been piled high, and there’s just no way it’s all going to stay in any of those trucks.”

Trustee Maria Lasecki said she received complaints about vehicles parked on the street by Johnny Junk on Saturdays.

“When the neighbors, the residents in that neighborhood, are trying to get out of their driveway or are concerned about even pulling out onto Badgerland, there’s individuals parked there without any urgency to move,” she said. “Efforts to work with Johnny Junk… they’ve been met with vulgarity, I’ve been told. Now I’ve not had that experience, but parking on the road is an issue.”

One of Johnny Junk’s owners, T.J. Burrows, who appeared before the board, said securing the loads is stressed to haulers at all the company’s facilities.

“We can’t control them fully,” he said. “We can keep reminding them and keep reminding them, kind of like a kid, and there are some that do get banned from not listening… That’s what I can control.”

Burrows said employees will pick up metal debris they see on the ground.

“In our yard, if I see something lying on the ground, I go pick it up,” he said.

Burrows said he would be willing to provide haulers with a map to reinforce where to be on the road when they arrive at the facility.

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