The Brookfield Zoning Board of Appeals reaffirmed its support of a plan that would bring 18 townhomes and four single-family homes to the site of the former Buresh’s Lobster House restaurant at 8906 31st St.
Members of the board for the second time recommended approving six zoning variances to allow the new development. On April 7, the zoning board had approved the variances, sending them to the village board for a final vote. But on May 23, the village board shipped the matter back to the Zoning Board of Appeals after concerns that the April 7 zoning meeting was conducted improperly.
Specifically, village trustees expressed worry that the matter could be appealed in a court of law based on allegations that opponents of the plan were not granted the ability to cross examine developers about evidence presented at that April meeting.
Last Thursday the zoning board afforded that opportunity to the handful of Buresh-area neighbors who attended the meeting.
Of the five residents who addressed the board, three favored the project, one was strongly against it and one didn’t indicate specifically whether he supported it or not.
David Skurkis, the most vocal opponent of the current plan, reiterated his conviction that the developers for the Prairie Square Townhomes had not proven any hardship existed that would lead to the zoning board to grant any variances at all.
“Since there is no true hardship found, we should make him comply with the zoning code just like anyone else would,” Skurkis said.
Skurkis also charged that residents are simply giving into the developers, because they’re sick of fighting the battle.
“They’ve worn the residents down, so they’re willing to settle,” Skurkis said. “It would amaze me that you would grant these variations, because no hardship was shown whatsoever.”
But Dan Cook, who helped rally residents against earlier development plans, urged the zoning board to grant the variances.
“I’m not giving in to anybody,” Cook said. “If this would have been the first plan, I wouldn’t have spent the last four years of my life fighting the other plans.”
That sentiment was echoed by Robert Drake.
“We are not tired,” Drake said. “We’re not [supporting the plan] because we’re quitters. I feel strongly and sincerely about what I say today. If I didn’t feel this was reasonable, I’d be letting you know.”
The new testimony had no effect on the zoning board commissioners’ votes. Zoning Board Chair Matthew Sinde and commissioners Margaret Blasage and Leanne Digan voted to approve all six variations. Bernard Hletko voted for four of the six.
John Schiess, the architect for the Prairie Square Townhomes said that he has been given no date for when the village board will take up discussion of the matter again, although Village President Michael Garvey had indicated previously that trustees would consider the matter no later than August.
The village board can either accept or reject the recommendations of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“My gut is telling me that there will be a lot of questions from the village board,” Schiess said. “I think we’ll come through with a positive vote.
“What was encouraging to me was that the neighbors came out again and spoke sincerely from the heart about how they feel about this,” he added. “These are people who once wanted to string me up on the corner of 31st and Prairie.”