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Tosa Council Approves O'Reilly Store on North Avenue

Final debate on the matter includes one of the better spoken arguments against it so far, but passage was inevitable with no legal grounds for the city to delay property owner's right to lease his space.

O'Reilly Auto Parts is on North Avenue to stay – for perhaps 15 years, anyway – as the Wauwatosa Common Council approved a conditional use permit Tuesday night for the national chain store.

The issue , with lengthy official debates and volleys of e-mails and petitions from area residents, many of whom did not think an auto parts store in the former Blockbuster building was a good fit for the neighborhood.

At the heart of the disagreement was the , which is supposed to be a roadmap for revitalization of the district and was adopted last year into the city's master plan.

The North Avenue Plan was created using a $40,000 Community Development Block Grant and calls for further city spending over the next 15 years to encourage more private investment.

Neighbors along the East Tosa corridor, and some aldermen, felt short-changed that the taxpayer-funded plan had not operated to bring in a more exciting occupant for the block-long site.

But by Tuesday, it had become clear that no roadblocks could be thrown up in front of O'Reilly or property owner Dan Cohen, who had every legal right to sign a 15-year lease and no obligation to pour money into a major redevelopment.

Most opponents, in the end, even acknowledged that O'Reilly is a good company, well-structured and financially strong, and probably the best tenant that could have been hoped for, especially compared to an indefinite vacancy.

However, Ald. Michael Walsh, who up until then had not had all that much to say about the leasing, read a lengthy prepared statement of opposition that began with a recollection of a sign posted by his high school wrestling coach.

"It said, 'Good is the enemy of great,'" Walsh said, and he went on to say that "good enough" was not good enough when a neighborhood's expectations had been raised so high.

A number of other aldermen congratulated Walsh on the eloquence, passion and cogency of his argument – even as they strongly disagreed with him.

Ald. Dennis McBride called Walsh's statement one of the best presented he had heard in Council chambers. But, he said, he had to counter it.

"I've also heard it said that 'Perfect is the enemy of good,'" McBride said.

Along with other's who would end up supporting the plan, he said that waiting for the ideal occupant to come along – even if it were legal to do so – would very likely prove counterproductive by creating a long-term vacancy.

Walsh was joined only by Alds. Linda Nikcevich and Bobby Pantuso in voting against the measure.

Ms. Esther Meyers March 21, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Why such protesting at the last second, Mr. Walsh? Why were you absent during the whole process- neither commenting at Plan Commission or Community Development?
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt March 22, 2012 at 03:34 AM
'Nuff said. O'Reilly will be a good business anchor with family-supporting jobs. Time to move on to the next challenge.
johnzsimms March 22, 2012 at 07:30 AM
"Clearance Auto" says that in states where it is permitted, will raise your rates based on your credit score. So if your credit situation has changed for the better by an appreciable amount, it is to your advantage to go shop around.
Alfred Kell March 22, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Good decision Tosans, now when you enter Tosa from Milwaukee you won't be able to see where Hell ends and Tosa begins! Brilliant move, let's make Tosa look more like that hell hole of Milwaukee....When given two choices, the people of Tosa always choose the wrong one, it is a shame given what the founders of Tosa did to make it a nice place and the current set of ne'rdowells are making us Brown Deer.
Random Blog Commenter March 26, 2012 at 08:14 PM
I welcome this well-run business to Wauwatosa that will occupy a vacant building, provide $$$ to the owner so he can pay property taxes and employ people -- all without a taxpayer subsidy. Such a business is my vision of Wauwatosa and should be the "vision" of anyone elected to represent the city.

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