Despite another rocky night for DJ's Pub at Common Council, the outcome was much brighter for the business, which has been trying to get approval for rezoning in order to rebuild since early June. Tuesday night's approval will now send it to plan commission to hammer out the details.
The agenda featured a reconsideration of the , which is currently residential. The owner has requested commercial zoning as the business will be torn down to make way for a wider Janesville Road. Rebuilding the business, which has been a fixture at the site for 90 years, hinges on rezoning, designated by the city as downtown revival (DR-1). However, it wasn't going to be easy.
Jim and Heidi Lindhorst, property owners immediately adjacent to DJ's, brought their attorney Julie Seno to argue on their behalf.
Seno told the council that the DR-1 zoning was contrary to the intentions of the city's comprehensive plan to protect the lakeside area it rests on, and presented a letter to the council outlining their protest.
"The DR-1 zoning is deviating from the city's comprehensive plan, and is unenforceable in its use of spot zoning," Seno said. In this case spot zoning selects zoning one parcel of land as commercial among surrounding residential parcels.
Seno added that the use didn't apply as it didn't serve a public good, but rather in the landowner's (Dan Hewitt) interest and was not a legal use.
Other residents, including lakeside resident Joe Bennett, spoke in favor of DJ's.
"I don't think that this business has caused any problems, and I don't think we as a community do enough for businesses," Bennett said. "These are your neighbors, and you should be able to talk to them and work things out...we have to show more support."
Former alderman and spokesperson for Stand Up Muskego, Tracy Snead also spoke in favor of the rezoning, telling the council, "we have to take a look at the economics. In order to keep taxes down we have to support businesses. Other businesses have stopped and watched this council over this issue, and other new businesses may be rethinking whether they want to move here."
Stand Up Muskego is a recently-formed political action committee, which has stood in favor of previous developments like DJ's and the defeated Little Muskego Lake park development.
The council took several rounds attempting to revise the current resolution including suggestions to send it to the plan commission to gather their input again. After a failed try to limit the size of the proposed building to 1800 square feet by Alderman Kert Harenda, the council finally struck a harmonious chord.
Alderman Dan Soltysiak recommended that the reference to the conceptual drawing be removed from the resolution, saying that it could give the plan commission more latitude in determining the final size of the business and parking area.
"This will allow the plan commission not to be tied to the square footage indicated in the drawing, while also allowing them to work with neighbors to ensure their concerns are being considered," Soltysiak said.
The amendment spells out that the new building and parking would be required to occupy the first 360 feet from Janesville Road, and allow no more than four residential units. The unanimous vote received was an indication everyone was happy with the changes.
However, Heidi Lindhorst said she was not satisfied with the outcome.
"This isn't any different from what they first proposed. The parking area is still farther back, and at bar close we hear the noise from the customers.
Snead called the action by the council "a good victory for DJ's. It's been an iconic business in this city for 30 years."
Snead also said the removal of the conceptual drawing from the resolution was a good one.
"It really should have never been a part of the resolution in the first place. That is something that is determined at plan commission, and it was a very smart move on Alderman Soltysiak's part to take it out. This way they have some leeway to determine what the best size is for a building on that parcel," she said.
Lindhorst said she was not sure if she would seek further action against the city.