Two years after beginning the process to transform the former site of Buresh’s Lobster House on 31st Street in Brookfield, construction crews will break ground on a residential development that will bring a total of 22 new housing units to the site.

On Jan. 19, architect John Schiess, who designed the development of 18 townhomes and four detached single-family homes on 31st Street between Prairie and Vernon avenues, received all 22 building permits needed to get the project started.

Schiess, who haunted village hall in the days before Christmas and during the past week in an effort to spur the process, said he was frustrated by delays in granting permits for a project that the village board approved in August.

Schiess filed for building permits Sept. 20, 2005. Since that time, the plans have undergone the scrutiny of B&F Technical Services, which provides code and plan review services for the village; Hancock Engineering, the village’s engineering firm; and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD).

One of the primary sticking points had been the level of storm water retention provided by the development. According to Assistant Village Manager/Director of Code Enforcement Keith Sbiral, the development just recently received the blessing of the MWRD, allowing the permits to be granted.

“We didn’t want to get to the point where the foundations were poured and then there were significant changes to the site plan,” Sbiral said. “Once we received the MWRD approval, we worked to get them issued.”

“I think they ran out of excuses why not to give me a permit,” said Schiess, who added that the process began to move forward once Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral start-
ed work this month.

“Keith’s been really helpful,” Schiess said. “He really wrapped his arms around the job.”

Sbiral said he understood Schiess’ frustration with the length of the process, and said the permit process was one thing, among others, he’d like to address in his role as code enforcement director.

“I don’t want to comment on whether it should have been faster or slower, but we’re working on getting the process of applying and getting permits as efficient as possible,” Sbiral said. “We want to make sure our codes are being followed, but we want to make the process of getting permits is a friendly one.”

According to Schiess, work crews will begin digging foundations as early as today and erecting wood forms to pour concrete when weather permits. He added that he will begin calling neighbors to alert them of the impending construction.

Construction is expected to take from eight to 12 months. As of last week, Schiess said that the real estate company marketing the properties had contracts on seven townhomes and one single-family home.

“Having activity on the site will spur further growth,” Schiess said. “We got the permits just in time for the big marketing season.”