The Brookfield village board on Monday night tossed a proposal to build a new library on the site of a former church back to the plan commission, after library officials amended their plan in order to address traffic concerns.
It’s not clear when the plan commission will restart its deliberations over the revised plan, which sought to mollify neighbors concerned about increased traffic on their streets and alleys. But it appears likely that the commission will hold a public hearing around mid-October.
“It’s going to mitigate the issue of the heavy traffic that the speakers [voiced] about traffic in the neighborhood,” said library board President Dianne Duner, noting that the new site plan was based on a traffic study conducted by the library.
While Duner said she was unsure whether the change would satisfy opponents of the plan, the changes responded directly to the one issue brought up repeatedly by those living closest to the library.
Village Manager Riccardo Ginex, along with the village engineer, superintendent of public works and the planning consultant used to review the library’s original proposal met on Sept. 4 with Duner and the library’s architects.
The meeting came a day after a discussion of the plan by the village board. Neighbors panned the plan, and several village trustees indicated they wouldn’t support it as presented, specifically due to issues of traffic circulation.
During the Sept. 4 meeting, architects presented different options to respond to the criticisms, one of which both sides felt best addressed the concerns.
“They presented a couple of iterations,” said Ginex. “This was the one that was the best.”
The latest plan calls for essentially creating a dedicated roadway that heads south and then doglegs to the southwest around the new library parking lot, connecting Lincoln Avenue directly with Grand Boulevard.
That roadway would be a two-way street leading both to and from the parking lot and would serve as the main entrance to the lot from Grand Boulevard. Entry to the lot would also be possible westbound via Lincoln Avenue.
Creation of that roadway forced planners to eliminate a number of parking spaces from the lot. Instead of 50 spaces, the lot would have 39. But it allowed the plan to retain its formal entry plaza. The library will still be asking the village to vacate a portion of Lincoln Avenue, but only the portion west of the alley. Initially, the library asked the village to vacate Lincoln Avenue between Oak Avenue and Grand Boulevard.
Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral, who is also Brookfield’s director of building and planning, said he is working on an analysis of the new proposal, which will be ready prior to the next plan commission hearing.
While village staff and library officials appear to have hit upon a compromise solution, whether the village board will go for the new plan isn’t clear. The board avoided discussing the new proposal Monday, saying it wasn’t the appropriate venue.
“The proper process is to go back to the plan commission,” said Village President Michael Garvey.
Roger Ritzman, the attorney representing the library board, stated that the village’s code allowed developers to seek an informal pre-hearing meeting with members of the village board and plan commission in order to avoid dragging out the approval process by simply guessing at what the village might approve.
“The ultimate concern or question is how we at the library can best obtain your input before we come back and have a repeat of where we are right now?” asked Ritzman.
Garvey appeared to prefer taking the project through the public hearing process, but acknowledged that the village code allowed the library to ask for the pre-hearing meeting.
Sbiral, however, in a separate interview said that such a meeting would be “really reckless” and open the project up “to all kinds of legal and litigation issues.”
According to Sbiral, that provision in Brookfield’s code was written long before recent legal decisions regarding land use, and should be stricken from the code because such meetings give the appearance of public bodies pre-judging projects prior to the public hearings.