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DJ's Fails to Make its Case to Council

What seemed to be a compromise struck at plan commission to please both business and residents falls short at common council, and DJ's will have to go back to the drawing board, literally.

Blame it on a pencil drawing that Dan Hewitt, owner of DJ's Pub, drew to give the city an idea of where he wanted his business and other residential structures to be placed on his property, but for now the bar and restaurant will not get its required rezoning in order to rebuild.

The pub will be razed in order for Janesville Road construction to proceed, and Hewitt needed to have the property rezoned in order for a new one to be built. The land had always been residential, and were that a change in zoning could negatively impact them. would have ensured that the business remain toward Janesville Road and residences remain toward the lake.

However, the lack of a more formal conceptual drawing proved to be too big of a hurdle for some to look past.

"I've seen more detail drawn on the back of a bar napkin," said resident Dave Taube. "There should be more given to the city before it approves rezoning."

Alderman Rob Wolfe agreed, saying, "If there is something more you could provide from your developer, I'd be ok with it. This doesn't do it for me."

Alderman Kert Harenda asked to delay a vote until a better conceptual drawing could be presented, but others on the council said what was needed on a drawing to help sway their vote would have to be extremely specific.

"The council is here to decide whether the zoning is appropriate for this parcel of land," said Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti. "If you're asking to see more specific drawings, you will have to be more specific in what you would like to see. My concern here is that we're going down a path where we are acting as a plan commission, and that's not our job here."

Alderman Rob Glazier, whose district includes DJ's, understood the concerns, but felt that the council needed to take a small 'leap of faith.'

"I felt differently until the Plan Commission meeting last night," he said. "The difficulty comes in how much of a drawing do we need to see as a council? It does require a little leap of faith, but this is for the Plan Commission - that's what they do. They place the restrictions, and as alderman of that district, I don't think tonight is the end of my oversight. Our question is whether this is a proper use of zoning."

Alderman Neil Borgman questioned whether there would be a plan at all from DJ's and raised suspicions that this could be another way for a lake park to come back to that area.

"Is this just an incremental step to something else? Is this really just a rezoning? I hate to be pessimistic, but this council has been looked upon poorly in the past because it hasn't been transparent. I don't want to know where his garbage cans are going to be placed, I just want to know if he's really going to develop anything."

Hewitt confirmed to the council that he is working with Burback Builders, but said he did not want to invest money into a drawing if "I was going to get shot down. I drew up the sketch, and I'm no architect, but I wanted to know if this was going to go through first before I spent any money."

Hewitt said he was told by the county that he had until November 1, 2012 to vacate, but he hoped that he could stretch that time until February. He said he expected to be without a business for a short time, but wanted to try and remain open through the Superbowl.

An additional wrinkle came in as seven residents had also signed a formal protest petition against the rezoning. Under the city's zoning code, at least 20 percent of adjacent landowners would have to protest a rezoning in order for it to force a 3/4 council vote to pass. In other words, with the absence of Alderman Eileen Madden from Tuesday's meeting, all six aldermen would have been required to cast a yes vote for the rezoning.

Ultimately the 4-2 vote that was cast (Wolfe and Borgman voting no) defeated the rezoning, meaning Hewitt will have to reapply and pay a fee again to request rezoning. Otherwise, one of the two aldermen casting a negative vote could bring the matter back for a revote.

City Planner Jeff Muenkel said he'd work with Hewitt to discuss his options, but wasn't sure if a more formal drawing would be presented in time for the next council meeting on July 24 to allow for such a revote.

Muskegotom July 11, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I guess what I don't understand is why this is happening in the 11th hour. The reconstruction of Janesville Rd has been in planning for years. Shouldn't the rezoning/rebuilding of DJ's been settled and approved a long time ago? it seems to me that DJ's, Muskego and the county should have all been working together for a long time on this to come to a mutually agreeable conclusion. Maybe this has been the case and I just don't know all of the facts.
Denise Konkol (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Depends on when the design was finalized - the county won't tell people they have to tear their business down until they're absolutely sure, and I know the goal is to raze as few structures as possible. It may have helped if the 4th District had an alderman - they were without for about 3-4 weeks.
Muskegotom July 11, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I was thinking that plans for this site should have been finalized a year ago.
Deanna Kuhn Knasinski July 11, 2012 at 02:51 PM
It's a shame Muskego is turning into just another "big" city. The old time feel of our city is slipping away fast.
SBR July 11, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Wolfe and Borgman are morons! This is in neither of their districts and the Alderman in that district supported it. Keep their nose out of it. Wolf ran on low taxes and pro-business. How does this accomplish that?
SBR July 11, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Call Wolfe at (414) 427-9653 and Borgman at (414) 422-0791 and let them know your dis pleasure at their attempts to raise our taxes by taking away valuable tax base!
DK July 11, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Once again the Common Council voted in favor of a special interest group. It is this mentality that will always continue Muskego's image as a "one horse town".
Denise Konkol (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Design plans for 2013 aren't even complete yet.
HJ July 11, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Folks - there are several issues here. First, DJ's has been on a RESIDENTIAL site for years. How did that happen? Nobody knows, but it's time to fix that. Second, the city put together a 2020 Master Plan for a reason: to shape the landscape of the community so that they can fix the craziness that has been allowed in the past (a house here, a bar there, a school here) and plan for a more uniformed future. This site was chosen as Residential, not Commercial. Third, do we really think a 3,600 sq ft bar/restaurant plus four rentals can even remotely fit on that property? DJ will be required to have a ton of parking space, setbacks from lot lines (which the current building has none...had any codes/requirements been followed in the construction of DJ's, it would have never been allowed to be built), and DJ should also be required to service his own truck traffic. Imagine an 18-wheeler filled with food and beverages stopping traffic on a brand new Janesville Rd in order to back into a tiny site! And the plan for (4) dwellings? Sounds like a subdivision. So we'll need to put a two lane road on the property as well. C'mon...it's not going to happen! Which is precisely why DJ did not present a plan. Having been involved with Plan Departments in other cities, it is a fact of life that the business must present a plan BEFORE re-zoning. The Plan Department completely dropped the ball. I like DJ's, but let's find another spot for it.
Muskego Mike July 11, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Other business seemed to be able to plan for the new road. I see a great new tire place and a fresh body shop building. If I owned a business in a building that was going to be torn down in November and I wanted to continue operating, I would have had a serious plan for the city to review. DJ’s opening for business in a new building that contains residential and commercial operations on that property is years away if ever.
Denise Konkol (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Actually people do know why it's been residential. A business predated the existence of the city by about 35 years, and hence its codes. All of your other questions are exactly why we have a plan commission, and they can probably answer those questions better that any supposition that appears here (unless you're an architect). However, they won't get a chance to do so, which was the point Ald. Glazier was trying to make. Rezoning IS contingent upon a plan and would have been in this case as well, and the point was also made last night that once one is approved by the Plan Commission (not the council), the zoning is granted.
Ian Ubel July 11, 2012 at 08:29 PM
HJ, This is a business that has been here for 90 years. All of you points are UNTRUE. This is a business that is legal non-conforming because it existed prior to zoning. The fact that he wants to re-build should be cheered! All current codes will be followed and it will be a great tax base to help offset your "not on my lake" home. This comes down to a freshman alderman who hasn't a clue yet and a senior one who, well is just senile!
The Anti-Alinsky July 11, 2012 at 10:48 PM
It seems like the property is large enough to put in a 3000 (give or take) building with enough parking. Much of that land is used for parking already. Is it that big of a deal for anyone but MEG if it is moved 100 feet or so closer to the lake?
Matt Johnson July 11, 2012 at 11:07 PM
While the concerns of the residents who live around DJ's should be heard, a compromise can be had here. However, MEG is trying like hell to get there way again. If you hadn't heard: It is their lake and now their city...
Muskego Held Hostage July 12, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Too bad the business that's there came from the good ole, one-horse town days and now gosh durn some of us want to change that. No one's business should be taken away in this manner and given the circumstances why spend a lot of money on architectural drawings only to find out you are going to be denied. I heard some really suspicious and narrow-minded speeches and thinking that scares about who is actually living in Muskego these days. Seems like the long arm of the Lake people is reaching out. None of them should have been even concerned about this property. Their water doesn't touch this land. It just has a lot of very old historic bacground and keeps the Muskego mistique. By the way all you Carrie Nations, there are no more bars but this one in downtown Muskego, that should reassure you that we are not all drunk and disorderly. Can't stagger from one to the other, we have to take buses now.
DK July 12, 2012 at 02:17 AM
It's not about the DJ, it is MEG's concern that the property can be rezoned, possibly opening the way for Mr. Dilworth to develop something commercial in the future. That, they fear, would destroy the peace and tranquity of their lake properties. Muskego truly is held hostage by these folks.

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