Project plan

Oconomowoc Council Approves Work on Rockwell Project Plan | Oconomowoc Business News

OCONOMOWOC – Common Council on Tuesday night authorized staff to begin a project plan and supplemental tax financing agreement for Rockwell Partners’ high-profile downtown project.

The approval includes a five-story building. This height has proven to be a point of contention among many community members who have spoken out at previous public meetings. The building is expected to be mixed-use with a commercial area on the first floor and condominiums on the top four floors.

The vote passed 5-3 with Alderman Chris Douglas, Alderman Karen Spiegelberg and Alderman Charles Schellpeper voting against.

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The Rockwell Project footprint, located at 125-131 Main Street, is near Village Green and Lake Fowler.

Immediately before the vote, Spiegelberg announced she would oppose Rockwell because she thinks the majority of her voters want a shorter building — four stories, not five.

“Because it’s a TIF (tax increment financing), our citizens are invested in it,” she said.

TIFs allow local governments to invest in public-private construction projects by reimbursing those investments through taxes generated from TIF properties.

The TIF agreement and aspects of the five-storey building are just a few of the goals of the project. Also voted on: plans for new public restrooms, parking spaces, an extension to the Lake Fowler boardwalk and a reconfiguration of the Village Green layout.

The construction of a public community center is not included in the plan, as Rockwell Partners had previously launched; however, the vote allocates $50,000 for a study on locating a new community center elsewhere.

Aside from Spiegelberg’s comments, there has been very little discussion of the subject. Council members had met earlier Tuesday in a committee of the whole meeting, and a closed-door discussion touched on the Rockwell project at that time.

There had been numerous public forums about Rockwell at town meetings and at separate events hosted by Rockwell Partners.

Also during the meeting, the council also approved funds to replace lead service lines in its water system. City officials said lead levels in its drinking water were below Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources health and safety requirements.

The council also passed an ordinance to grant itself the power to remove “planned development” designations on the grounds that the DP was not completed within five years of its approval. City staff said this would eliminate clutter among its maps and provide a higher degree of efficiency.