Fitchburg Meijer development

The Meijer store in Manitowoc that was included in the company’s development plan to demonstrate the exposed brick on the side of the building, which is also proposed for the Fitchburg store.

City of Fitchburg

The proposed Meijer development along the city’s western border will continue to move forward, despite alders raising concerns similar to what they shared in prior meetings.

At its Tuesday, Aug. 25, meeting, the City of Fitchburg Common Council voted to approve a rezone application and a land parcel split for Meijer by a vote of 6-1-1. Ald. Julia Arata-Fratta (Dist. 2) voted against, and Ald. Joe Maldonado (D-1) abstained. During future meetings, the Plan Commission and Council will review other parts of the project, like the design and stormwater drainage before its full approval.

The development would be located in the northwest corner of McKee and Fitchrona Roads, across from the Orchard Pointe development that includes Target, Hy-Vee and an Aldi. Meijer, if passed, would be built on land Wingra Stone owns.

This is the second Meijer proposal in Dane County in the last few months. The day before the company provided the proposal for the 159,000-square foot Fitchburg store to the city on June 30, Meijer also proposed a site in Sun Prairie near the Woodman’s and Costco on the east side.

Meijer real estate manager Ashley Mack told the Council at a July meeting there is no set date for when the company would break ground or open the store, because it wants to get through the approval processes first.

Arata-Fratta, who voted against the project’s initial site plan in July, said she’s concerned about the company using the “dark store” loophole to reduce its property tax responsibility to the city, and thinks a store on the city’s east side would be a better location.

She said she believed the market was already saturated in the area, and the east side of the city would be a better location for a grocery store.

“I don’t think the city needs another supermarket in that part of town – we’ve got plenty,” she said. “This is very bad planning for the city, we don’t need another supermarket. It’s not about you, Meijer … if you can say, ‘I want to put one on the east side of the city,’ I’ll say, ‘Yes, we need it.’”

Other alders expressed that they wanted to see more jobs come to the city, of which Mack estimated that the new store would bring closer to 300 employment opportunities. Ald. Gabriella Gerhardt (D-2) said she was worried if alders turned away a grocery store proposal on the west side, the city would develop a reputation of being hostile to development. She said that would not be conducive to getting a future grocery store on the eastern side of the city.

“We definitely want to encourage grocery store growth in other parts of the community,” she said. “If we squash a project like this, (we’d) be creating a reputation that would prevent other grocery stores from coming to the community.”

Ald. Tom Clauder (D-4) said he believed that opportunities for grocery stores on the east side will come as more growth occurs on that side.

“I think it’s just a matter of time,” he said.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.