Capping a nearly two-year process that included input from residents, business leaders, elected and appointed officials and representatives from transportation agencies and the Brookfield Zoo, the Brookfield Village Board voted unanimously Feb. 14 to adopt a new master plan for the village.
The Master Plan 2020 document will “serve as Brookfield’s official policy guide for physical improvement and development within the Village of Brookfield,” according to the ordinance, which was embraced by trustees on both sides of Brookfield’s political spectrum.
“It’s a good plan, but we have to use it,’ said Village President Bill Russ. “Now we have something to refer to, to look at. No plan is in stone … but with the plan we have a roadmap to future development in the village.”
Trustees acknowledged that the adoption of the master plan is really just the first step in mapping out Brookfield’s future. This and future boards will need to constantly review the document, chart the village’s progress with respect to recommendations outlined in the plan and sometimes change the document to reflect new challenges the village faces.
The challenge for those boards will be to overcome circumstances that have waylaid previous attempts at comprehensive planning in the village.
“Many of the recommendations made in [past master plans] have been made again here,” said Trustee Kit Ketchmark. “My guess is that whatever kept those plans from being implemented, there’s the same risk of that happening to this plan. It’ll require the board and staff to give guidance.”
Matthew Sinde the chairman of the Master Plan 2020 Committee reiterated his desire for the board to create an ad hoc committee that would include members of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Plan Commission, village staff and residents to continually monitor the implementation of the plan.
He also called for a reexamination of the village’s zoning code in order for it to reflect the goals of the master plan.
“We have to look at zoning very hard … to make the puzzle pieces fit,” Sinde said.
Revising the zoning code will be a key for attracting developers to the village, said John Houseal of URS/TPAP, the urban planning firm hired by the village to guide the master planning process.
“The zoning code says one thing and the comprehensive plan says another,” Houseal said. “The zoning is the teeth of how a site is developed. Make sure it supports what you’re saying in your comprehensive plan.
“At a minimum, staff should work with the Plan Commission to review the implementation of the comprehensive plan on an annual basis,” Houseal added.
The 2020 Master Plan identified six major sub-areas in the village that are ripe for redevelopment, including Ogden Avenue, the Grand/Prairie business district, the Hollywood/zoo train depot area, Eight Corners, the 47th Street industrial corridor and the 31st Street commercial strip.
Particular focus was paid to Ogden Avenue and the downtown business district. Two sites on Ogden Avenue, one at the east end and one at the west end, have been envisioned as ambitious retail destination locations. In both cases, the plan calls for the acquisition and consolidation of several pieces of property.
The difficulty of realizing that vision has already been put to the test on the west end of Ogden Avenue. Trustees earlier this year approved a condominium plan at 4000 DuBois Blvd., a site envisioned as large, consolidated parcel featuring a combination of commercial and residential uses.
Meanwhile, the Grand/Prairie downtown area calls for significant redevelopment, including high-density residential buildings such as condominiums and townhomes.
“A long journey begins with a a first step,” said Trustee Wil Brennan. “It’s not cast in stone, but it’s important to be able to implement, and future boards have to be able to look at the plan. It’s a very good start.”