All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fountain Brook Crossing: BIG building, BIG zoning change, BIG precedent, BIG mistake

Just to give you the heads up, there is a potentially HUGE zoning change and building project coming to Brookfield next week. There will be a Public Hearing on Fountain Brook Crossing at City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 7:45pm (before the council meeting).

Fountain Brook Crossing is a HUGE office building proposal for the north east corner of Moorland Road and Greenfield Ave.

The developer is asking for a zoning change from a B3 with a floor area ratio of 30%, to a PDD with a whopping 140% building to floor ratio! This will make Capitol Heights look puny!

The land owner and developer, William Hoag, tried to downplay the size of his proposed building by comparing his building to other sites such as the Midway Motor Lodge. His building will be 268 feet long, Midway is 270 feet. Compare the sites and size though on the map (Fountain Brook Crossing would be that little vacant parcel to the right of the intersection at the bottom.)

I am trying to collect some photos or pictures to help you envision how overly large this project is, but in the meantime, do look at the developers information and the City's notice.

Keep in mind that the "retaining" wall or decorative fountain fence is actually a 17 foot tall enclosed parking structure that nearly fills the 2 acre site. This project is really a building on top of a building. Note the size of the people in comparison and the close proximity of the parking wall to the road.

You may send in your comments to the city by Monday, Jan. 14 if you are not able to come to the Public Hearing or if you do not wish to speak. Email to:

counter hit xanga Links: Betterbrookfield, Brookfield7

J. Mellone's 2006 referral: Follow Master Plan or amend properly

Dear Suburb Saver,

This Tuesday, Oct. 3, 7:45pm, the Common Council meets. On the agenda: Discussion and possible action on the referral from Jerry Mellone. (Sorry, the actual agenda is not on the City website due to their virus problems.) Attend if you can.

This is an important issue. Will our City follow the correct protocols regarding changes to the Master Plan, or just do as they please hoping we won't notice?

Contact all of the aldermen concerning these two issues: 1. The importance of following the Master Plan or amending it properly, and 2. The widening of Calhoun Road . Tell them to follow proper procedures. (Aldermen's email addresses are located at the very bottom of this email.)


At the last Common Council meeting on Sept. 19, Alderman Jerry Mellone made a referral regarding the proposed widening of Calhoun Road south. (See entire referral at bottom of this email.) He found that Brookfield's 2020 Master Plan does NOT call for a 130 foot right of way, but instead specifies a 100 foot maximum width for roadways. (I believe the plan also encourages the use of 75 foot widths wherever possible in residential areas like Calhoun south of I-94.) He is requesting that the city stop the 130 foot design plans and adhere to Brookfield's Master Plan.

In February of 2005, the Common Council unanimously voted to remove control of the Master Plan from the Plan Commission, transferring that responsibility to the Common Council. That means that the Common Council is the body now responsible for proposing and approving any changes to the Master Plan. That change makes the decision makers accountable to the voters.

According to Brookfield City News (mid page), there was "a 1997 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that upheld the priority of the Master Plan in a community". Although Master Plans are not written in stone, there is a proper procedure to change them. At a council meeting early in 2006 the question was asked, When as a council did we decide the road should be 130 feet wide? The answer was that the council never did formally decide or vote to make the road that wide; engineering just proposed that width increase on its own. Since the Council never went through that process of proposing a change and then voting to approve that the right-of-way be widened to 130 feet, the 2020 Master Plan should prevail in this case. The Master Plan concept was created to ensure decisions be made purposely and not just happen because a department like engineering wanted it that way.

Alderman Jerry Mellone is requesting that proper procedures be followed regarding the right-of-way width for Calhoun south. The Master Plan either needs to be followed or the proper procedures for amending that plan need to be enacted. It is important that our city follow the rules and principles they outlined, not just in this situation, but for future decisions for other areas of our city as well. Policy changes need to be made by those we elect, not by city department heads and staff.

Kyle Prast

News coverage: Outside of Cindy Kilkenny's Brookfield City News blog (scroll half way down the post) on brookfieldnow there has not been any news coverage of J. Mellone's referral to stop the 130' plans, or the concept that the city is not following its own Master Plan that I know of. Both the Milwaukee Journal and Brookfield News reporters were at the last council meeting but nothing showed up in the papers. Check for updates on and

Alderman Jerry Mellone's referral:
To: The Common Council of the City of Brookfield
From: Alderman Gerald Mellone, 6th district
Date: September 18, 2006
RE: Calhoun Road

On February 1, 2005, the Common Council of the City of Brookfield approved Ordinance 1998-05. This ordinance removes the control of the Master Plan from the Plan Commission and redirects the responsibility to the Common Council. With that fact in mind, I am withdrawing my referral to the Plan Commission. This is a matter for the Council as a Whole. The ordinance does not claim a stop to the Plan Commission is part of the process for the Master Plan.

Below you will find a solid argument to limit the right of way (ROW) width on Calhoun Road between Bluemound and Greenfield to 100 feet:

1. The Master Plan has not been revised to accommodate a 130 foot ROW for an arterial boulevard. Page 40 of the Master Plan (Phase Two: Master Plan Document) clearly articulates " Brookfield's Boulevard Arterial Section" as 100 feet ROW maximum. For clarity, a figure (numbered 27) is provided on page 41. This drawing shows a boulevard with foot paths.

2. The more detailed document, the Calhoun Road South Neighborhood Plan (CRSNP) and Transportation Plan, adopted by Resolution 6771 on July 17, 2001 is an amendment to the Master Plan described above. If details occurred to define the issue, these details would override any of the Master Plan vision. There is no page of the CRSNP that suggests anything more than the Master Plan measurement of 100 feet ROW. Page 66 in item S-4 specifically describes Calhoun Road. The CRSNP describes a "four-lane divided section maximum." Right of way is never described, so the measurement of 100 feet is upheld in the Master Plan document.

3. The ROW of 100 feet in the Master Plan commentary includes a separated bike or pedestrian path. The final paragraph of this section on page 40 says, "However, in such cases where there exists inadequate right-of-way, one path, approximately eight feet wide is sufficient."

4. The formal process for an amendment to the Master Plan is outlined on page 89 as "Other Amendments – 'Interim Amendments.'" Be sure to substitute the power of the Common Council in exchange for that granted to the Plan Commission.

In conclusion, the City of Brookfield must stop design plans for widening Calhoun Road with a 130 foot right of way. There are other conditions listed in the Master Plan that are not being followed in the development of this project. It is the responsibility, under Wisconsin law that the Common Council maintains Brookfield's Master Plan. I am including additional documentation previously directed to the Plan Commission, in this referral for the Common Council to review.

Gerald Mellone
District 6 Alderman

Links: Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Friday, January 11, 2008

How about merit pay for aldermen?

Recently, Brookfield's human resource committee voted 3-1 in favor of a 1% pay raise for aldermen. Gary Mahkorn, Bob Reddin, and Jim Garvens voted in favor; Mike Franz voted against.

Wouldn't it be great if we could pay our aldermen based on merit instead of a one pay fits all criteria?

For some aldermen, I have no objections to them getting a bit more compensation for their services. I live in the 7th district and since Lisa Mellone replaced Tom Schellinger in 2006, we finally have an active voice at City Hall and someone down here who will look into and act on a problem. Lisa devotes a lot of time and effort toward being an alderman. So in my opinion, since a workman is worthy of his hire, more money would be OK for someone like her. A few other hard working aldermen come to mind: Jerry Mellone, Chris Blackburn, Dan Sutton, and Bill Carnell. There may be others--each district's constituents usually know who their "go to guy" is.

There are other aldermen however, who don't do much of anything, except come to the meetings and vote. Many don't even bother to read through their packets of information! Wouldn't you love to see them get a pay cut?

Actually, I think the pay rate right now is about right for the time they are supposed to devote toward the job. Bob Reddin summed it up pretty well, " 'Most of us consider this a public contribution,' Reddin said. 'Let's face it, if I wanted a part-time job that pays $9,000 a year, I'd go down to Home Depot and have a lot fewer headaches.' "

Since Scott Berg and Steve Ponto are running unopposed, obviously the aldermen pay amount is not so lucrative that people are lining up to run.

Too bad merit pay for aldermen would only happen in a perfect world.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mayor Speaker, wasn't that our money?

Did you read that Mayor Speaker wrote a check to fulfill his 2006 campaign promise regarding the return of his pay raise to the city? "'I kept my word,' he said." Unfortunately, he gave it to the wrong city!

The Journal/Sentinel reported that "Mayor Jeff Speaker returned his 2007 salary increase - and a little more - to city coffers Monday, making good on a re-election campaign promise."

But this statement is a bit misleading, because his returned pay raise did not go back into the city's "coffers" as he promised. Speaker instead designated that his pay raise go to the non-profit Sister Cities fund. (Want to see what Sister Cities does? Look at their Sept. 2007 meeting minutes.)

What is wrong with that?

His raise was not returned to the taxpayers of Brookfield as he promised. He in effect made a donation, with our taxpayer money, to a non profit cause of his choosing. (I understood the city was not to directly fund the Sister Cities project from our taxes.)

Now his $1,750 check is hardly a make or break issue for our city, but I think it does reveal an attitude that taxpayer relief doesn't matter. I look at budgets as every little bit of savings helps. Besides, after 4 years the total starts to resemble real money. "...Speaker pledged if he won re-election to a second term he would not accept the pay raises and would return them to the city. That would mean returning a total of $14,223 through 2010."

Interestingly enough, the mayor returned more money than necessary. His check was for $1,750, but it only needed to be $1,401. I think if you make a promise that you are returning your raise to the city, it should go back into the city's general fund. So maybe Mayor Speaker could request that his $1,401 be given to our city and the remaining $349 go to his beloved Sister City project if he favors that cause so much? That would be a win/win arrangement.

By the way, the return of the mayor's pay raise was an issue during both campaigns. These quotes were taken from the transcript of the 2006 JSOnline forum:

Kilkenny: In your 2002 campaign literature you said, "The New Mayor Will Get A 28% Raise." On the reverse page, you say, "I will not accept the pay raise and will ask the aldermen to do the same." How did you follow through on this promise to reject the mayoral pay raise?

Speaker: When questioned by a reporter on that exact campaign literature, I stated that I would not take the raise for that year and pay back the City the amount for that year period. And I did donate it back to the City. As for what the aldermen did, I can only speak for myself.

In Speaker's first term, he returned his extra pay for his first year - $2,409. He kept the increases the next three years.

I recently heard about an elected official (out east, I think) who also returned his pay raises while in office to fulfill his campaign promises. But now that he was leaving office, he was requesting the raises back! Hopefully, that will not happen in Brookfield, and our taxpayer money being given to the wrong city will be resolved soon.

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P.S. Don't forget the Public Information Meeting for the proposed Fountain Brook Crossing at Brookfield's City Hall, Wednesday, January 9th, 6:30 - 7:30 pm. This new development is proposed for Moorland Road and Greenfield Avenue. Big surprise here: The 97 foot tall development requires rezoning.

LINKS: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, Brookfieldnow