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Used car dealership not in the plans

Proposal doesn't fit Brown Deer's vision for redeveloping area

Oct. 12, 2011

Brown Deer - Members of the village Plan Commission recommended denial of a proposed used car dealership on a plot of land that formerly housed restaurants bearing the names A&W and Sammies. The decision came following concerns of compatibility with the surrounding area, which has been in a state of redevelopment.

Justice Khalsa came before commissioners Monday with his proposal to repurpose the vacant building and sell used cars and motorcycles, ranging from $8,000 to $10,000. He also was proposing a plan to make an addition on to the rear of the building that would serve as a garage for a service bay.

"I have extensive knowledge about cars and motorcycles," said Khalsa, who purchased the property from the owner of Sammies. "It's my passion."

Village staff cited a number of concerns about the proposal. While Khalsa did present landscaping plans, they were in the right-of-way of Bradley Road or encroaching on neighboring property lines. The condition of the existing parking lot, which has a number of cracks, also was an issue.

Community Development Director Nate Piotrowski said the proposed use does not necessarily fit in with the village's comprehensive plan and goals within Tax-Incremental Financing District No. 4, which includes the parcel.

Not the best use of parcel

"The comprehensive plan calls for the future land use in this area to be mixed-use," Piotrowski said. "This is not a direct conflict, but there is concern at the staff level that a used-car dealership is not the highest and best use of the site, and it may hinder future redevelopment efforts for the larger area."

Commissioners agreed with Piotrowski's assessment.

"We now have fabulous development going on in the area, and that's come with significant involvement," said Trustee Jeff Baker, who serves on the Plan Commission. "A lot of time and money has been spent. I can't support having this in the area. I just can't."

Throughout the discussion, Khalsa said he believed he could make the dealership compatible with the surrounding area.

"I've never come across a person who hates cars," Khalsa said. "It will fit. You just have to look at it with an open mind. Any business is better than no business there."

Neighbors against proposal

Eight residents and business owners also spoke during Monday's meeting, and all were against the proposal.

Resident Rob Guilbert, who lives near the former Sammies building, said he would like a business on the parcel that is compatible with the nearby bike trail. Guilbert listed another restaurant or bike shop as possibilities.

"I don't think Brown Deer wants to look like West Allis, where there's one car dealership after another," Guilbert said. "It doesn't fit into the neighborhood."

The village previously had enforcement issues related to nuisance vehicles and exterior storage at used car dealerships at 4685 W. Bradley Road and 7725 N. Teutonia Ave. The village had rescinded conditional-use approvals for both dealerships.

The Plan Commission's recommendation will be taken to the Village Board for final approval Monday.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: The Brown Deer Village Board is expected to make a final determination of a used-car dealership proposal.

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 17

WHERE: Village Hall, 4800 W. Green Brook Drive

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