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.