A meeting of the City of Kaukauna Plan Commission was called to order at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 27, 2020, by Chairman Penterman.
Members Present: Feldt, Feller, Moore, Penterman, Sundelius, Thiele.
Also Present: Planning Director Jakel, Principal Planner Brunette, City Attorney Davidson.
Absent and Excused: Schoenike.
- Excuse the Absent. A motion to excuse the absent Commission member was made by Moore, seconded by Feldt. All members voted aye. Motion carried.
- Minutes. A motion to approve the minutes of the July 9, 2020, meeting was made by Moore, seconded by Feller. All members voted aye. Motion carried.
- Special Exception Request – 105 West Third Street (Zacharias). Brunette explained that the lower level of the property was converted from commercial use to residential without permits and in violation of the permitted use in the downtown zoning district. Ms. Brunette explained the Special Exception application process – an application before Plan Commission, notification to the Common Council, a Public Hearing before the Plan Commission (Class 2 notice – published twice), with a recommendation to the Common Council. Ms. Brunette expressed her concerns regarding the proposed use siting the Municipal Code as well as concerns relative to the deactivation of a storefront, removal of commercial space from the downtown and issues with surrounding land use compatibility. Mr. Jakel explained that a 2017 legislative act will limit action the Plan Commission can take and the Commission can place conditions on approval relative to appearance. City Attorney Davidson explained that the Plan Commission has discretion to determine if the conditional use meets reasonable requirements and to preserve the intent of the initial ordinance. If the Special Exception permit is denied, there are provisions for appeal to the Circuit Court. Ms. Brunette asked if we are required to hold the public hearing or could the request be denied at the Plan commission level. Attorney Davidson explained that the Plan Commission could deny the request but must first determine if all conditions are suitable under the code. Commissioner Feldt explained that Kaukauna Utilities went through the Special Exception permit process for the construction of a sub-station in Combined Locks. The use request could not be denied however there were conditions on the approval. Attorney Davidson explained that if the conditions are reasonable and met, a request cannot be denied. Commissioner Sundelius asked if the request could be denied if it is not appropriate for the area. Attorney Davidson explained that there must be very specific findings relative to determent to surrounding properties as the action would be subject to review by the Circuit Court. Mr. Jakel explained that the fact-finding stage could be addressed at the public hearing when surrounding property owners would be notified and their comments considered. Mr. Jakel explained that the public hearing needs to occur and that the code was created and intentionally permitted the proposed use via the Special Exception. Ms. Brunette sited a similar project located on Wisconsin Avenue where a downtown property was renovated for residential use and has on-going issues with existing businesses who see it as a disruption. Additionally, the initial proposed use of the property has changed to two leased apartment units resulting in a violation of municipal parking requirements. Mr. Jakel explained that project was a pre-existing, legal non-conforming use. Mr. Sundelius explained that the project is not a good fit for the downtown and asked about possibly tabling the item while staff looks into other options. Ms. Thiele explained that she spoke with the owner of the adjoining building who stated that the building has a long history of neglect and they would rather see it used as residential than being vacant. Chairman Penterman explained that he is not in favor of the project, that the City is working on attracting businesses to the downtown and has substantial investment in improvements. Mr. Jakel suggested that the Special Exception and the land use philosophy be considered separately at future meetings. Ms. Brunette explained that the earliest possible date for a public hearing before the Plan Commission due to the publication requirements would be September 17th with Council action on October 6th. A motion to notify the Common Council of the Special Exception request and set the Public Hearing before the Plan Commission for Thursday, September 17th at 4:00 p.m. was made by Moore, seconded by Sundelius. All members voted aye. Motion carried.
There being no further business to be brought before the Commission, a motion to adjourn the meeting at 4:50 p.m. was made by Feldt, seconded by Moore. All members voted aye. Motion carried.
Community Development Coordinator