The Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission on June 23 recommended granting three zoning variances that would allow constructing two homes on a 75-foot wide lot in the 3600 block of Prairie Avenue, despite protests from neighbors who fear more backyard flooding and a parking crunch.
Commissioners voted 6 to 0 to recommend a plan submitted by Chicago-based Momentum Holdings LLC, which would demolish the century-old single-family home at 3617 Prairie Ave. and construct two new energy-efficient 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath homes with detached two-car garages. The homes would be listed at about $450,000, according to Momentum Development’s application for three zoning variances.
The commission’s recommendation is advisory. The Brookfield Village Board has final say over granting zoning variations.
The property, comprising three 25-by-125-foot wide lots, would be subdivided into two identical 37.5-foot wide residential lots. Brookfield’s zoning code requires new single-family residential homes to be built on lots no less than 50 feet wide.
In addition to that zoning variation, Momentum Holdings seeks a variation for minimum lot square footage and for maximum building coverage on a lot.
Brookfield’s code requires single-family residential lots to be at least 6,200 square feet. The proposed lots are 4,687 square feet each. The code also requires a building to cover no more than 35 percent of a lot. The proposed structures would cover 44 percent of the lots. However, both homes conform to the village’s requirement of retaining at least 40-percent green space on residential lots.
“It absolutely fits the character of this neighborhood,” said Commissioner Jennifer Hendricks. “It might be different from what’s south of Ogden, it might be different than what’s in the Hollywood district, but what is in this part of Brookfield is smaller lots.”
The commission recommended the plan with a few conditions. First, commissioners are requiring “two high-quality materials” that will cover at least 70 percent of the facades facing Prairie Avenue, that no vinyl siding be used and that the developer commit to a storm water plan proportional to the increase in building coverage.
Rahul Bhangare of Momentum Holdings said that plans call for underground storm water detention in the form of large dry wells under the backyard. The commission also suggested having Momentum Holdings provide partial funding required to create an offsite storm water solution such as a parkway rain garden.
In addition, the commission wants Momentum Holdings to resolve an encroachment issue related to a structure in a neighboring property’s side yard.
“They’re very tastefully done, they’re very tastefully proposed, so I think it’s a good start,” said Zoning and Planning Commission Chairman Charles Grund.
However, four neighbors who spoke at the public hearing were not at all happy with the plan. All four complained that parking would be made more difficult, especially during the winter months when alleys were not easy to traverse. And all four worried about additional flooding. The block, particularly the north end, suffered severe flooding from a storm in April 2013.
Donald Urban, a longtime resident of the block, also worried about the precedent.
“These people will go around buying up every 75-foot lot in the village and try to make the maximum amount of money that they can,” Urban said.
Grund addressed the fear over additional density on the block by arguing Momentum Holdings could, without any variations at all, build a home twice the size of a typical home found on the block.
Commissioners also said the additional density was in keeping with the neighborhood, which sits adjacent to the Grand/Prairie downtown district which, by its very nature, encourages more density.
As for residents’ fears about flooding, Grund said storm water rules in Brookfield are now very strict and that all new development must account for and contain storm water.
“In 2015, the requirement for keeping the water on new constructed lots, whether it’s residential or commercial is extreme in this community,” said Grund, an architect who said he has had to follow the village’s strict storm water rules in his own designs.