With the Brookfield Public Library board and the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission more or less on the same page, the village’s board of trustees will finally get a chance to consider the plan for a new facility that’s been in the works since 2012.

On Feb. 25, members of the Planning and Zoning Commission essentially agreed to language changes that library officials suggested for the planned development ordinance that must be approved by the village’s board of trustees. 

The changes allow the library’s architect more control of the design of a central tower feature, allow the library more latitude in whether to choose furniture and carpeting made from recycled materials, give the library more control of obtaining materials from “local” sources, will consolidate signage pointing out sustainable practices in the building’s design and remove a requirement to install an electric car-charging station in the parking lot.

In addition, members of the Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to recommend extending time for accepting the final plan application to five years, if the village board approves the plan. The village’s code allows for a two-year time frame.

“I think it all worked out,” said Jennifer Perry, president of the Brookfield Public Library’s Board of Trustees.

According to Perry, the Brookfield Village Board will consider the final development plan for a new library at its committee of the whole meeting on March 14. The meeting will take place immediately following the village’s board’s business meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. in the council room at the Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

If all goes as expected, the village board would vote on the final planned development ordinance at their meeting on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the village hall. If the plan is approved by the village board, the library’s board of trustees will finalize plans to place a referendum question on the November 2016 ballot, asking voters to approve a construction bond issue to build a new library.

Library officials have moved methodically through the plan approval process, delaying village board consideration of the planned development ordinance for several months over language in the initial version of that document.

“The whole process has been a little confusing for us,” said Perry. “Our biggest problem was that we found the language they gave us to be pretty vague. That’s what we wanted clarification about.”

After having the subject taken off the village board agenda on two occasions, village trustees sent the matter back to the Planning and Zoning Commission to nail down the language in the ordinance that will come to the village board later this month.

In unanimously agreeing to nearly all of changes in the ordinance language that the library suggested, planning and zoning commissioners essentially put their faith in the architect and officials of the village’s building department to make the right decisions.

“If we pass this as written, who will police it then?” asked Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Charles Grund at one point during the Feb. 25 hearing.

A good deal of the discussion on Feb. 25 revolved around the requirement that the library install an electric car charging station in the parking lot of the new library.

Commissioner Karen Miller urged that it be kept as a condition in the ordinance, but library officials and several Brookfield residents spoke out against the requirement, saying there was no evidence to suggest that it might be used enough to justify its existence.

Brookfield resident Steve Sullivan called the car charging station requirement “greenwashing” and suggested that the money for such a purpose would be better used for programming.

“There are better options if Brookfield wants to put a green foot forward,” Sullivan said.

Suzanne Williams, a resident who spent many years on the Brookfield Conservation Commission, argued that electric car owners have other charging options, like at their work places, and said that visitors to the library wouldn’t be there long enough to really take advantage of the station. She suggested including another handicapped-accessible parking space instead.

Jean McTeague, another resident, said that such a requirement was a sign of micromanaging by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

But Grund disagreed with that characterization, saying the library was seeking multiple zoning variances and that the commission had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make sure the plan was the best it could be.

“It’s kind of give and take,” Grund said.

In the end, library officials agreed to a commission request that they rough in the electrical service for a car charging station even if they don’t install it immediately.

“I’m glad they dropped the car charging station; I hope the village board goes along with that,” Perry said. “Even though we have to run the conduit, it’s a lot cheaper than putting it in.”