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Franklin Meijer proposal hasn't sunk yet

Nov. 21, 2012

Franklin - A proposal for a 190,000-square-foot Meijer store at the southeast corner of Highway 100 and Loomis Road appears to be staying afloat, though stagnant, until the developer can work with the state to construct on partial wetlands.

Little progress has been made since the Common Council on Sept. 4 approved, with some conditions, the developer's basic site and survey plans. Those conditions required Meijer to work out roadway issues with the DOT and the wetland issue with the DNR.

City officials said they believe Meijer and the state worked out an agreement to relieve some traffic congestion but have not heard an update about a request for a natural resources special exception.

Update by letter

The latest formal communication came in an Oct. 18 letter from Meijer representative Brian Randall. He requested the city not schedule any further hearings.

"We will contact you with our request (for a hearing) to be scheduled or an update before Dec. 31, 2012," Randall wrote.

In an interview Tuesday, Randall said Meijer is still working with the DNR and the Army Corps of Engineers in order to satisfy those agencies' concerns.

"I would not say the project is on hold," he said. "We are still working with the DNR and the Corps to get the needed approvals."

Complex project

Joel Diet, the city's planning manager, said even though a public hearing on the development had been held in late summer, the city attorney has advised that a new hearing, compliant with sworn testimony, will need to be held.

"We get project proposals all the time," Dietl said, but this project has a lot of variables, including the DOT and DNR issues. He pointed to the city's approval of relaxing the previous 125,000-square-foot cap that paved the way for the Meijer project proposal to be reviewed.

City Engineer Jack Bennett said he thought Meier and the DOT had worked out a possible traffic solution around the proximity of the Highway 100 intersections of Puetz and Loomis roads. He noted that it appeared that a northbound right-turn land between the roads from Highway 100 would be acceptable.

"I believe at this point the natural resource issue is the only thing that needs to be settled," Bennett said.

Mixed reviews

Previous public hearings on the Meijer development generated a balance of opposition and support.

While a number of residents - including some who live nearby - said the store would be a good economic development for the city, others focused on the 24-hour operation and potential noise and traffic disruption.

Meijer currently is proposing a somewhat smaller store in Wauwatosa, where it is going through a design and site review. Attempts to develop a 190,000-square-foot store in Grafton have hit a snag based on a lawsuit from nearby condo owners.

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