The Brookfield Village Board delayed a decision on what kinds of commercial uses ought to be allowed in the Eight Corners business district until at least April 22 after trustees said they couldn’t support the sweeping changes recommended by the village Planning and Zoning Commission in February.
If passed by the village board, the amended code would have prohibited daycare businesses, cultural exhibits, parks/recreation facilities, government uses, post offices, libraries, fraternal organizations, artist studios and art instruction, auto service/body shops, religious assembly, and general indoor and outdoor assembly/entertainment.
With trustees Michelle Ryan and Nicole Gilhooley absent from the village board’s March 25 meeting, there was no possible way trustees could muster four votes to approve amending the zoning code, especially after trustees Edward Cite and Ryan Evans said they couldn’t support the changes as written.
“I think there are very viable businesses [that would be prohibited] in this list,” Evans said. “There are other uses that I am fully against. … But in an effort to guide tax-generating properties, I can’t support this in its entirety. I think the conversation should be, ‘Which of these things in specific should not be allowed.”
Cote called the list of new prohibitions “too vast.”
“It’s so vast that I think it would restrict our long-term viability in those areas,” Cote said. “I understand there’s a desire to put limits on things, but if we were to take this in its entirety right now and pass this, the only thing we’re going to do is hurt us going forward in the long term.”
The village board voted to table a vote until April 22 and will discuss possible changes to the draft zoning amendment at their meeting on April 8. A moratorium on applications for special uses or rezoning for properties is in effect until April 28. The moratorium has been in place for the past year.
One of the goals of the amended zoning code is to promote sales-tax generating businesses, like restaurants and bars, and retail businesses in the area. The amended code also would have allowed amusement arcades as a permitted use in the district.
But the change was also recommended to drive away development, particularly anything that would result in removing property from the tax rolls or anything – like a church – that would run counter to the commercial development goals for the district.
The Rev. Karl Sokol has said he wants to build a mixed-use development in the 3400 block of Grand Boulevard that would combine residential condominiums with ground-floor commercial uses along Grand Boulevard and an arts center that would include a theater that could double as a church for his Compassion United Methodist Church.
Sokol obtained a special use permit last year for Compassion United Methodist Church to hold religious services inside of the Compassion Factory Art Gallery and Studio, which is owned by the Methodist church, at 9210 Broadway Ave. in the Eight Corners business district.
The village board, having set that precedent, is seeking to amend the zoning code as a way not to expand it.
The proposed amendment has been blasted by Sokol as short-sighted for the business district and clearly meant to prevent Compassion United Methodist Church from worshipping at Eight Corners.
But, on March 25, the recommended changes also were panned by the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce. In a letter read to the village board by a chamber representative, chamber President Steven Langworthy said the changes “would only serve to stifle the future business opportunities to our bourgeoning community.”
The proposed changes were also criticized by Clara D’Onofrio, the owner of Miss Clara’s Joyful Learning Center at 9213 Broadway Ave., whose music school would become a legal non-conforming use under the new code.
A letter from D’Onofrio, read by Stephanie Roldan, said the amended code would make it impossible to expand and difficult to sell her business.
“I fail to see the benefits of such an amendment and reducing the types of businesses allowed … is a drastic measure with widespread and long-term negative impact to Eight Corners.”
A similar complaint was voiced by a representative from Alphabet Learning Center, 9220 Broadway Ave., which would also not be allowed to follow through on a planned expansion of its daycare services in the district.
Trustee Michael Garvey downplayed the proposed church’s role in his decision to support amending the use table at Eight Corners.
“This is not about a church,” Garvey said. “This is about the future development of that district.”