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Muskego aldermen object to sketchy plan for new restaurant

July 16, 2012

Muskego - Whether there will be a new DJs Pub & Grill after the current establishment is demolished as part of a road-widening project is still in question.

The owner of the business that has stood alongside Janesville Road for 90 years wants to rebuild, but some city officials and others aren't entirely comfortable with his plans, as presented.

According to the plans of owner Dan Hewitt, DJs would more than double in size and serve as more of a restaurant than a bar. The development would also have residential units - he originally wanted eight, but the Plan Commission recommended capping them at four.

To enable the project, Hewitt had asked the Muskego Common Council to rezone the property from residential to downtown revival district. He needed the support of at least a three-quarters supermajority - which translates to six of the seven alderman - in support.

Sufficient doubts

But, the rezoning request garnered only four votes in favor last week. There were too many unanswered questions, some aldermen and residents said.

One concern was that the plans he provided didn't give enough information about what he intended to do, some aldermen said.

Another has its roots in suspicion over whether Hewitt's plan would really be built or if there would be a switch to something else once a rezoning is granted. The property has been involved in two extremely controversial proposals to establish a park on Little Muskego Lake with commercial and residential ventures to go alongside.

Some aldermen wanted more assurances that Hewitt is serious about rebuilding.

Hand-drawn plan

One alderman noted that the hand-drawn layout of the proposed plan doesn't show the commitment to the project that a layout done by a developer working with the property owner would.

"Is this really the plan?" asked Alderman Neil Borgman, one of two to vote against the rezoning.

Before he supports it, he wants evidence that a developer is involved, Borgman said.

Alderman Robert Wolfe, who cast the other "no" vote, said he wants to see evidence of investment from the owner. He also criticized the hand-drawn building layout submitted to the city.

Former alderman David Taube, speaking from the audience, agreed that the drawing wasn't adequate.

"It's kind of insulting, the lack of detail," said Taube, who cautioned the council against rezoning without more information.

"The horse will be out of the barn if you give away zoning when you don't know what you're going to get," he said.

Hewitt explained that he didn't want to invest in a professional drawing until he knew what the city wanted from a reconstructed DJs.

The need for businesses

Although Alderman Rob Glazier said, "I don't think the property owner did himself any favors with the pencil drawing," he supported the rezoning to keep the business.

"We have a hard time getting businesses," Glazier said, adding that restaurants come up frequently as something residents want the city to attract.

Glazier was optimistic that the Plan Commission could make sure the needs of the business and the neighbors could be met. (Several petitions opposing the rezoning have been filed.)

The council invited Hewitt to submit better plans to try to address the concerns that were expressed. Then the council probably would reconsider its vote at its July 24 meeting, aldermen said.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: possible reconsideration of rezoning requested by DJ's Pub & Grill, W18040 Janesville Road

WHEN: 7 p.m. July 24

WHERE: Muskego City Hall, S8200 Racine Ave.

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