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Board allows vehicle sales use at site, ending 10-year debate

April 14, 2009

More than 10 years of confusion about whether a vehicle sales business was allowed to operate on Appleton Avenue has been resolved.

The Germantown Village Board on April 6 unanimously approved land division, rezoning and conditional-use permit requests that will enable property owner Tim Wheaton to continue operating Success Enterprises and Smart Buy Motors on his property at N10845 Appleton Ave.

"We have spent tens of thousands to get to this point and to meet all the requirements of the village, and we know the village is doing what it can to protect their residents," Wheaton said. "It has taken a lot of work and effort by a lot of people, especially members of the Village Board and Plan Commission, to get to this point."

Minimizing impact

The rezoning of about 1.2 acres of property from agricultural to highway business was tabled in July 2007 pending Wheaton's submission of a certified survey map of his 20.5-acre property.

Village Planner Jeff Retzlaff said nothing has changed about the proposal since then, except the land division and conditional-use permits were presented to the board earlier this month.

"The conditions are numerous, comprehensive and intended to minimize potential impacts on the adjacent environmental corridor and surrounding low-density residential area that may result from a used vehicles sales and service operation having as many as 91 vehicles stored on a 1.2-acre parcel," Retzlaff said.

But Wheaton said he has considered his use of the property as permitted since the village in 1995 granted him a conditional-use permit. However, the permit allowed small engine repair and equipment storage on a portion of his 20.5-acre property. That permit was amended in 1997, when the village allowed him to have a 64-square-foot ground sign to advertise the repair shop.

"We've always felt we were operating legally," Wheaton said. "That has been our dispute for years already on this issue because I don't take something like that lightly."

Time out of town

In 1998, Wheaton obtained a motor vehicle dealer license from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for the purpose of selling vehicles at the property, which was not allowed under the terms of his village permit or in the agricultural zoning district where the property is located.

Starting in 1999, former Village Planner Jason Gallo repeatedly notified Wheaton of what was considered noncompliance until 2003, when the board directed him to request rezoning of the property.

Wheaton cited time out of town between 1999 and 2003 as the main reason why it took so long to respond to village's correspondence.

Ty Finke can be reached at (262) 446-6621.

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