The new plan to save the Siepmann farmhouse should be denied (UPDATE)

Ok. I made a mess of this. I spoke with the City Attorney who clarified the Board of Appeals is the same as the Board of Zoning Appeals. The men (yes, all men) listed below are the ones that will decide on this issue. It sounds like it shouldn’t be a problem. After their approval, it goes back to the Plan Commission and then on to the Common Council.

This is where it gets interesting: the city staff never explored saving the farmhouse. One alderwoman made the initial contact with the developer – Lisa Mellone. If it weren’t for her effort, we wouldn’t be looking at keeping this landmark. I hope to visit with her next week and get the full story. (Of course, you can expect the papers will probably get to it first, but at least the story will be told. I’ve got kids coming home and will likely be busy until Monday.)

And, I’m going to be a bit of a gnat here, but for all one alderman’s posturing about how good he is for the history of this city, he never showed any action. I’m really disappointed in him, the Mayor, and city planning staff.


Stupid iPhone! I can’t get to the bottom of this post to make a change. The Board of Appeals is a tax thing and wouldn’t be a part of this. So, I wonder who the decision makers will be? More later.


At least that’s what the staff report says. Oh, Brookfield. Here we go again.

The developer is bringing a proposal to the plan commission on Monday to keep the farmhouse. STAFF IS RECOMMENDING THE COMMISSION DENY THE PROPOSAL. A minimum setback is not met. I’m starting to wonder if it’s maybe Dan Ertl that doesn’t like old buildings.

I really wish I were kidding, but I’m not. Here’s the text from the staff report that was just e-mailed:

1. This item was previously recommended for approval at the May 11, 2009 Plan Commission. Please see Plan Commission minutes for previous staff report.

2. This referral comes from the June 2, 2009 Common Council meeting to have the Plan Commission consider a revised site plan.

3. The applicant is proposing to preserve the historic farmhouse and realign the south service drive to the south of the farmhouse building.

4. The proposed realignment of the drive would not be in compliance with chapter 17.52.020(a) which requires a minimum 25 foot setback for drive aisles.

5. Staff encourages the applicant to pursue a variance to Chapter 17.52.020(a) through the Board of Zoning Appeals for purposes of historic preservation.

6. Staff requests that the applicant identify and report to Plan Commission any additional tree loss due to the realignment of the drive aisle.

Recommendation: Since the proposed drive aisle does not meet Chapter 17.52.020(a) of the Brookfield Municipal Code, taff (sic) recommends denial of the revised plan and method and master site plan, but encourage the applicant to pursue a variance through the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The Board of Zoning Appeals is not listed on the city’s Web site. The Board of Appeals consists of:

Kevin L. Bublitz, Chairman
Robert H. Buikema
Gordon Rozmus
Frank G. DeGuire, Jr.
Rodney Carter
Ald. Jerry Mellone (Alternate)
Ald. Dan Sutton (Alternate)

I know the city thinks they are trying to keep everything in line. What they are doing is making a developer jump through hurdles that shouldn’t exist to save a historic property. At least one alderman has talked of a preservation ordinance for years, but never followed through. An ordinance is needed to outline a process that would save developers this kind of gamesmanship.

But like I’ve said before, pre-campaign season is upon us. Will we finally see a little progress? At least the Mayor could muster the call, don’t you think?


  1. Take a cooling pill. Staff CANNOT simply let a non-conforming setback slide through. They expect the Board of Appeals to make the exception (which is the normal course of events) and all will be legal.

  2. Well Dad29, why don’t you restate the obvious? They certainly could have started the process a month ago and not made the developer go before the Plan Commission, Common Council, Plan Commission, be denied, and then go to the Board of Appeals which will still have to go to probably the Plan Commission before it heads to the Common Council again. Staff could have communicated properly and the developer go straight to the Board of Appeals without all this hoopla weeks ago.

    Staff and the mayor blew it here. God bless the developer for hanging on.