Van Horn storage lot plan questioned

Neighbors raise concerns over drainage, noise, traffic before Town Board
by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Town Board Tuesday put the brakes on a proposal from Van Horn Automotive for a 40,150-square foot new car storage lot on County O.

The board tabled the conditional use permit application for a month to give Van Horn representatives a chance to answer a number of concerns raised by nearly a dozen neighbors.

“This will be a better use of our lot and will allow trucks a safe location to deliver and get off the road,” Basil Buchko, general counsel for the Van Horn Automotive Group told the board and those in attendance at the meeting.

The proposed lot is located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Pleasant View Road and County O, Buchko explained.

Buchko and project manager Joe Bronoski of Abacus Architects in Sheboygan faced a number of questions from neighbors along Pleasant View and County O.

They assured the crowd that there would be no increase in traffic created by the lot.

“This is purely storage,” Buchko said of the lot, which would hold new cars being readied to delivery to the automotive group’s various locations. “All the vehicles would be marked not inspected for sale.”

That would mean no customers would be coming to the lot, he added.

Buchko said paving the lot would make it easier for delivery trucks to get in and out of the lot, as well as keep them from parking on or partially on the road.

He also allayed fears that the lot would be used to store crashed or damaged vehicles.

That issue was raised by Joyce Nelson, who noted that the neighbors now often have to deal with vehicles at Van Horn’s body shop, located on County O, visible from their homes.

Buchko replied that the body shop vehicles would not be stored on the new lot and promised that he would work with body shop personnel to ensure that those vehicles are less visible.

Noise issues at the current lot were also raised by several neighbors.

“To find cars (in the lot) they hit the alarm buttons at all hours. That needs to be addressed,” Mike Kees told the supervisors.

Buchko said he would ensure that practice ends, whether or not the lot is paved.

“My big question is what about drainage,” from the lot, asked Gary Nelson.

Other neighbors raised the same concern and termed the retention pond on the lot adequate.

“That’s not a retention pond, that’s just a water hole that’s dangerous,” Joyce Nelson commented.

“What are you going to do that makes it retention pond and not just a hole in the ground,” asked Terry Fischer.

Buchko and Bronoski agreed that the drainage issues need to be addressed. They pointed out that the current pond is considered a wetland by the Department of Natural Resources and can not be removed without DNR permission.

Channeling runoff to existing drainage tiles on neighboring properties was one alternative the Van Horn officials said could be investigated.

Bronoski said that the county’s water runoff ordinance, which they would have to comply with, “is pretty restrictive.”

Buchko said Van Horn would be willing to have the town submit the final drainage plan to an independent analysis to be paid for by the automotive group.

The neighbors also expressed concern about the speed of cars being driven off the existing lots and the potential for damage to Pleasant View Road, which is a gravel road north of County O.

“You guys did a very nice job redoing that road this year,” Brian Harlan, addressing the board, said of Pleasant View.

Buchko said access and egress from the lot would be on County O, limiting the impact on Pleasant View.

“We definitely want Van Horn to be a good neighbor out there, that’s important to us,” Buchko said in conclusion.

“The residential area needs to be honored, the residential area needs to be respected. We’ll make clear (to employees) that this is not a drag strip. I will work assiduously to change that behavior. We will gladly post a sign that (the lot) is a private, closed parking lot and there is no trespassing,” Buchko went on.

“The discussion tonight brought out a lot of good points,” Supervisor Glenn Kruschke commented before moving to table the conditional use permit application to the September meeting.

Buchko was agreeable, noting that work on paving the lot would probably not begin until next spring regardless.

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