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Do sidewalks belong on Business 151?
Reconsideration of McDonalds sidewalk waiver sought
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.33.08 PM
This map shows the southeast side of Platteville east of Mineral Street and north of Business 151, where the new McDonalds and SherwinWilliams store are under construction. - photo by Platteville Places

The subject of sidewalks along the East Business 151 corridor came up twice in the June 22 Platteville Common Council meeting.

The longer discussion took place during discussion of a request to revoke the sidewalk waiver for the new McDonald’s restaurant under construction at 1775 Progressive Parkway. Next door to McDonald’s is the Sherwin–Williams paint store under construction at 1741 Progressive Parkway. 

The owners of both properties applied for sidewalk waivers to not install sidewalks along East Business 151 and, in the case of McDonald’s, Commercial Drive. The Common Council approved the McDonald’s waiver March 24, but denied the Sherwin–Williams waiver April 28.

The result of the split decision is that, as Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot put it, “Sherwin–Williams will be required to build a sidewalk that won’t connect to anything.”

“My beef is where we’re inconsistent with sidewalk enforcement,” said at-large Ald. Amy Seeboth-Wilson. “We end up enforcing sidewalks at some and not others, and it makes developers confused and upset.”

Seeboth-Wilson said the “expectation is that developers include sidewalks” unless a sidewalk waiver is granted.

“My biggest concern is safety and consistency,” said District 1 Ald. Barb Stockhausen, noting walkers and bicyclists going the wrong way on Business 151. “I think we need to work toward sidewalks.”

District 3 Ald. Barb Daus said the motion the council approved was onlya “partial sidewalk waiver. … In the motion, it said ‘when the city requires it.’

“The greater question is one of a plan. … I guess our alternative would be to put up signs that say ‘No Walking Allowed’ if we’re not going to create a safe corridor for walkers and bicyclists.” 

“I am against dictating something without common sense or a plan,” said Jim Schneller, whose Platteville Development Group is developing the Keystone development, the area north of East Business 151 and along Keystone Parkway. He said the council should, instead of revoking the McDonald’s sidewalk waiver, revisit the Sherwin–Williams waiver denial.

Schneller said Sherwin–Williams is being required to build “a 125-foot sidewalk with a connection to nowhere,” and revoking the McDonald’s waiver would require “a slightly longer connection to nowhere.”

Schneller said he and the city went “round and round and round” on sidewalks when the properties were first developed. 

“Sidewalks are in a majority of the development already,” he said. “Sidewalks are not placed on Business 151 for safety reasons. The corridor out there was the trail” that runs from East Mineral Street north of the Keystone development.

“Once you install them, then liability becomes a big problem, and maintenance” — snow and ice removal from sidewalks, said at-large Ald. Mike Denn.

Seeboth-Wilson said walkers have a “horrible experience” walking in parts of the city that don’t have sidewalks.

Daus also wanted information on bus stops in the area as part of the new Platteville Public Transportation bus routes. Expanded bus routes take effect in September.

Daus advocated sending the sidewalk plans back to the Safe Routes Committee, saying, “I’m not sure that sidewalks right along [Business] 151 is a safe option.”

Common Council president Eileen Nickels said that even if sidewalks were required on Business 151 between Keystone Parkway and Commercial Drive, “there would still be gaps” between East Mineral Street and Keystone Parkway.

The subject also came up during council approval of rezoning of the property at 255 East Side Road. The council unanimously approved the rezoning request of Allegiant Oil to change the zoning from R-3 Multi-Family Residential and B-3 Highway Business to M-2 Heavy Manufacturing for a bulk fuel plant.

Schneller, who is selling the property to Allegiant, said the zoning change “makes much more sense than what was there. It is an industrial park.”

Seeboth-Wilson asked about sidewalks on the Means Drive side of the site, saying, “There are a lot of employers down that street, and it would be great if they had sidewalks too.”

Denn said the walkers there are employees who walk on their lunch breaks, and they “can walk to the hospital and back.”

There is a sidewalk on the east side of East Side Road, which goes past the Allegiant property, to Vision Drive, where the sidewalk switches to the west side to Southwest Health.

There are no sidewalks on Means Drive. Allegiant Oil’s Scott Jones said Allegiant would not install sidewalks on the Means Drive side “unless everybody else does it.” 

“Sidewalks are a good thing,” said Schneller. “But putting sidewalks just to put them in, carte blanche, is misguided.”

“This is strictly drive-in, drive-out,” said Denn.

Director of Community Development and Planning Joe Carroll said sidewalks are required for new commercial-zoned properties, but not new industrial-zoned properties.