What had looked like a showdown over flowers, shrubs and trees was diffused Tuesday night when Meijer Inc. came back to the city with a revised landscaping plan that more than meets Wauwatosa's standards for its proposed supercenter store.
The city's large-scale retail development ordinance – more commonly known as the "big-box" ordinance – asks for 10 percent interior greenspace. That's within the parking lot and around the building, not on the property's perimeter.
Meijer's original plan for the store, at North 112th and Burleigh streets, called for just 5.6 percent, and although its proposal breezed through the Plan Commission – albeit with a recommendation that Meijer try to bump that up to at least 7 percent – the Community Development Committee two weeks ago debated it at length and criticized the plan strongly.
Nevertheless, it was sent forward to the full Common Council, which last week bore down on the plan as inadequate and a bad precedent, and sent it back to the committee.
Expecting another long evening, committee members were pleased to find a revised plan in front of them offering 11.5 percent interior landscaping space, and passed the request unanimously.
Meijer was able to accommodate the additional greenspace by reducing the size of some of its parking spaces on the periphery of the lot. The company had what it felt was a minimum number of spaces for the 157,000-square-foot store, but it was calling for larger spaces than the city required.
It's a company policy to provide larger than average parking spaces because its supercenter concept attracts lots of family shoppers in vans and SUVs who buy large quantities at a time and need the extra space for side loading.
By reducing the size of only those spaces in the peripheral "overflow" areas, Meijer was able to increase landscaping space while still retaining the same 635 parking spaces it had first proposed.
Next, the Meijer building design goes to the Commercial Design Review Board.