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Bayview License Dispute Raises Many Concerns

March 24, 2009
AK Food Mart

AK Food Mart on S. Howell Avenue

Today, the Journal Sentinel covered the story of Parshotam Singh’s fight to obtain a beer license for his Bayview convenience store, AK Food Mart.  Doug Hissom at OnMilwaukee.com previously covered this battle in December when the convenience store owner’s quest was set back by Alderman Tony Zielinski’s selective use of aldermanic privilege to oppose Singh’s application.  Singh’s plight raises legitimate concerns over community gentrification, the rights of business owners and the proper use of aldermanic privilege.

AK Food Mart stands along Howell Avenue as the southern bookend of the two convenience stores at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Howell Avenue.  It’s northern neighbor, The Hub, already with a beer license of it’s own, is the larger of the two and offers a wider selection of food and household items, including a variety of malt beverages and beer in both regular and king-size bottles.  I usually frequent The Hub at least once a week, sometimes for their beer. I can’t say the same about AK Food Mart.

What rankles Zielinski and the other critics of AK Food Mart is the general unkemptness of the area along Howell Avenue as it splits south from Kinnickinnic Avenue.  Apart from Cafe LuLu, there isn’t a sense of economic development on the street that would match the impressive rejuvenation along KK.  A concrete island in the middle of the intersection with Howell and Lincoln Avenue exists solely as a bus depot for riders heading in all directions.  Business activity in the block where AK Food Mart sits falls off until you reach Paper Boat at the southern end;  this may have a lot to do with the low-income apartment complex that sits just south of Singh’s store.

Alderman Zielinski is completely justified to argue that a beer license for AK Food Mart is not what he wants in the area, but his actions do not correspond to his words.  Citing “overconcentration” in an area that has eight establishments currently selling alcohol and actively promoting the licenses for two different bars —  Tonic Tavern, a yet to be opened bar north of Dee’s Wine Stop on KK, and the other, a frequently closed “eco-friendly” bar named Telluride — would indicate that Zielinski’s problem does not involve the actual sale of alcohol.  The beer license is simply being used a cudgel by which Zielinski can close AK Food Mart and force its sale to developer Tim Dertz, for even without the beer license there is still access to beer in the immediate area.  I’m certain that bums, panhandlers and other miscreants have already noticed the beer store just a few feet to the north of AK Food Mart.

Zielinski believes that Singh’s property is valuable and is not being developed to it’s full capacity.  As the Journal Sentinel article clearly states, Zielinski wants Singh to sell the property to Tim Dertz, who owns the building housing the Tonic Tavern.   But in this story, Singh definitely looks like the victim.   According to the city’s property records, Tim appears to be delinquent in paying the 2008 property taxes on one of his many Bayview properties.  Singh paid his 2008 property taxes in full.  That’s not to criticize Dertz, but I’m sure if it was Singh that was behind on his taxes it would have been brought up at his license hearing.

If the complaints about AK Food Mart were reflective of the actual business and not  a symptom of the surrounding area, I think it would be perfectly justifiable for Zielinski to recommend denial of Singh’s license application.   But the knowledge that Zielinski and Dertz are working in the background to inhibit Singh’s business adds an unfortunate stain on the development process and calls into question the way we distribute valuable city licenses.  Gentrification in Bayview is going to happen no matter the eventual outcome in this story, but at what rate should development be impeded if it’s being delayed by the rights of a lawful business owner?

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  1. April 2, 2009 4:31 pm

    Southside Development Plan Viewed As A Guideline

    District Bids were left out of advisory plan

    By H. Nelson Goodson
    April 1, 2009

    Milwaukee -Members of various Business Improvement Districts also known as District Bids say they were not notified or asked to participate on what has become the spread of gentrification in the South side. A member of the Cesar E. Chavez Drive Bid said that the city was working on expanding the street on Chavez Drive and adding new lights to go with it, but was not definite when the project will start.
    The Chavez Bid member claims that other members as well did not know that the $150,000 Near South Side Area Advisory Plan by the Milwaukee Department of City Development (DCD) was being planned by other groups and businesses, which most of their representatives don’t reside in the area. Last weekend, Hispanic business owners and residents met to discuss the advisory plan proposed by the Milwaukee Department of City Development. They determined that indeed gentrification had begun in W. Seeboth, W. Oregon, W. Pittsburgh, W. Florida and from S. 1st St. to the W. Lincoln Ave. area where commercial and residential lofts are flourishing. The trendy restaurants, nightclub scene, lofts, and commercial development area is now called the 5th Ward by Developer Tim Dertz and the city. To residents in the South side, the area is called “Yuppie-ville.” The term yuppie (short for “young urban professional” or “young upwardly-mobile professional”) refers to an 1980s and early 1990s term for financially secure, upper-middle class young people in their 20s and early 30s. This ward seems to have separated from Walker’s Point and the rest of the South side. The proposed advisory development plan will lead to racial and economic disparity in the South side, according to the Hispanic group.
    In mid December during a public hearing in the City Licensing Committee, Alderman Tony Zielinski used the Southeast Side Comprehensive Area Development Plan adopted by the Common Council to influence the denial of granting a Class “A” Malt license to AK Food Mart on S. Howell and W. Lincoln Ave., according to business owner and community activist Dagoberto Ibarra.
    Michael J. Maierle, Urban Planner for the DCD said, “the corner streets of S. Kinnickinnic, W. Lincoln, and S. Howell Ave. are a key focal point for Bay View ongoing redevelopment and retail effort, and plans recommend improving this intersection with public and private investment. Non of these community redevelopment strategies is furthered by granting a malt alcoholic beverage to a second store in such close proximity to another. Granting a license wouldn’t improve the goal of the plan.”
    Ibarra says the issue was “racial” and Ald. Zielinski used a development plan approved by the Common Council, which is actually similar to what has been proposed as an advisory plan for the South side. The Near South Side Area Advisory Plan could be used as a tool to deny and deprive other small businesses licenses.
    The Southeast Side Comprehensive Area Plan was a key factor to deny a beer license to AK Food Mart business owner Parshotam Singh, according to Ibarra. Trendy business owners including Lulu’s Cafe, and other real estate owners have invested millions of dollars on S. Kinnickinnic and W. Lincoln. They opposed the sale of cheap beer and referred to AK Food Mart as not fitting with the development plan in the area. Ibarra expects the same type of racial tactics used to deny Singh a license in the South side. Hispanics and non-Latino small business owners could face the same consequences. Dertz and other development investors would then purchase the properties cheap, and push Latinos out, Ibarra said. Both Ald. Zielinski a member of the License Committee and 5th Ward Developer Dertz favor redevelopment in the area.
    On Wednesday, Singh a native of India said his beer license was denied, but shortly afterwards a liquor and beer license was approved for a new trendy bar called “Tonic Tavern” currently under construction a block West of AK Food Mart at the address 2335 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and W. Lincoln Ave. In that same 2300 block, the Highbury Pub, Grand Cafe Centraal, and Dee’s Wine Shop have liquor licenses to sell both alcohol and beer. Singh is now contemplating, if he will file a class action lawsuit against the city.
    Zielinski during the Licenses Committee hearing in December said, AK Food Mart had people loitering in the area, and to many liquor licenses had been issued in the area. Ald. Zielinski failed to mention at the hearing that another liquor license would be issued a month later to Paul Jonas who will operate the new Tonic Tavern being constructed at 2335 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. without notifying neighbors as required. The building where the Tonic is being constructed is owned by Developer Dertz. Paul is the brother of Lulu’s Cafe owner Sarah Jonas. The City of Milwaukee, Office of the City Treasurer property tax records for Dertz show that as of March 31, 2009, his property located at 347 E. Lincoln Ave. is Delinquent by $15,161.76.
    About 20 people in the neighborhood came forward at the Licensing Committee on December 15, 2008 with alleged complaints of loitering, prostitution, public urination and panhandling by AK Food Mart. Police reports were inconsistent with those complaints and show no such activity was reported in the corner of W. Lincoln and S. Howell. Singh’s attorney Michael Maistelman said “economic and gentrification were the main issues for keeping his client from getting a beer license.”
    Sarah Jonas, the owner and co-owner of Lulu’s Cafe said that they don’t want cheap brand name beer sold in the area because it would attract undesirable activity not consistent with revitalizing the area. In other words, most of the area business owners and residents who testified against granting a beer license to AK Food Mart don’t want low income people in the area of W. Lincoln and W. Howell. “Most of this business owners don’t realize that their business also depends and includes catering to the people in the area regardless of economic status. I’m sure some of these trendy business owners have received some kind of taxpayer monies from the city to revitalize their businesses and area. Who do they think the taxpayers money is coming from?, from the same people they are now trying to keep from the area!,” emphasized a tax paying resident in the area.
    AK Food Mart in the last 17 years of business has never been granted a beer license, and in this case economic discrimination by the city Licensing Committee is alleged. Singh owns a primary development economic corner where both the AK Food Mart and a Mexican restaurant are located. Some of the trendy business owners and real estate investors who testified against AK Food Mart from getting a beer license have actually tried to buy Singh’s corner property. If Signh holds out for a few more years, his corner property could be very well be worth in the millions.
    Last week, Raul Vasquez, editor of ¡Aquí! Milwaukee Journal Sentinel magazine said that he didn’t know how the name of Aquí was included as a sub consultant in the Near Southside advisory plan, and had the name removed from the DCD internet web site naming consultants and other involved in the plan.
    Consultants HNTB and Abrazo were paid nearly $150,000 to head the initial plans and provide services such props and other items to help explain the project. HNTB is a multidisciplinary firm known and respected for our work in transportation, bridges, aviation, architecture, urban design and planning, environmental engineering, water and construction services. Sub consultants are ABRAZO, and The Center for Neighborhood Technology.
    The funding partners are the 5th Ward Association, Associated Bank, Continental Savings Bank, Council for the Spanish Speaking, E & Co., Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hope House, Layton State Bank, Lincoln Neighborhood Redevelopment Corporation, M&I, Mitchell Bank, Rockwell Automation, Sonag Company, Inc., Thomas A. Mason Co., Tri City National Bank, U.S. Bank, and Vidal & Associates, according to DCD.
    Next public hearings will be held on April 20, at 1:30 p.m. at the City Plan Commission, 1st floor Board Room, 809 N. Broadway. The next meeting at, the Zoning, Neighborhoods, and Development Committee, on May 19, at 9:00 a.m. in Room 301 B, City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. Finally, the Common Council is scheduled to vote on the plan on May 27, at 9:00 a.m. in the Common Council Chambers in Room 301 B at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. in Milwaukee.

  2. April 20, 2009 9:26 pm

    City Plan Commission Approves South Side Comprehensive Plan

    April 20, 2009

    Milwaukee (ELCNN)-On Monday, members of City Plan Commission chaired by Patricia Torres Najera unanimously decided to approve the controversial South Side Comprehensive Plan despite opposition to approve it. The plan has come underfire for the lack of community awareness of the plan, affects, and possible gentrification affect it will have in the predominately Hispanic area.
    The planning advisory group in favor of the plan was led by Michael J. Maierle, Strategic Planning Manager for the Milwaukee Department of City Development. Maierle told the commission the plan had been in the works for two years and the community had been informed. Dr. Tony Baez, executive director for the Center of the Spanish Speaking who spoke in favor of the plan said that El Conquistador Newspaper was used to advertise the plan and meetings. Baez also said that Maria Cameron-Monreal was in favor along with others who participated in the planning, but Maria was not present at the meeting.
    Victor Huyke, Publisher of El Conquistador Newspaper said, “I published the ad the weekend before they unveiled the plan at the Harley Davidson museum. The city didn’t pay for the ad, I paid for the ad to let the community known how important it was for them to participate.” The Department of City Development has had no ads published in El Conquistador within the last two years concerning the South side Comprehensive Plan, according to Huyke.
    Another member of the Maierle’s advisory committee said that the South side was predominately residential and the plan would bring jobs to the area. In opposition, H. Nelson Goodson who resides in the area where the comprehensive plan is being proposed says, the community just became aware of the proposed advisory plan last month when it was unveiled at the Harley Davidson museum. Goodson told the commission that the plan failed to mention the taxes and revenues generated from the South side district for the city. “The city of Milwaukee needs transparency and the public needs to know how much tax revenue has been generated in the area to benefit the city, compared to other districts. I don’t believe the plan will actually benefit our community in the South side, if aldermen and developers use it as a tool to try and force small businesses and residents from the area just because they no longer fit in the plan,” Goodson said.
    Goodson emphasized, the 12th Aldermanic district alone is not just residential, but has at least fifteen business districts within and some of those Business Improvement Districts (BID) including the Cesar E. Drive was not included in the planning.
    Ernesto Nava who lives in the South side also opposes the current advisory plan. Nava told the commission Maierle’s advisory group failed to properly inform the public about the proposed plan, because in our community there are multiple media outlets in Spanish, television, radio, magazines, newspaper, and none were used to inform the Latino community in last few years. “The project sounds to good and beautiful, but it doesn’t cover our needs in the area. We need development in the area of providing hospitals, clinics, gyms for teenagers, newer schools, and to repair our streets and side walks. One of my major concerns is how low income families are going to afford to live in the area and to keep up with the proposed development and also how small businesses are going to fit in the plan. Non of these concerns were addressed in the plan by Maierle’s advisory group,” Nava said.
    Both, Goodson and Nava requested the commission to postpone or table approval of the plan until the community and the BIDs in the area participate. The request fell on deaf ears.
    Juan Luis Gutierrez, a South side resident was also present and opposed the plan, but did not speak.
    The commission allowed Maierle, Baez, and members of their advisory group to speak various times while Goodson and Nava were denied by the commission any further comment to tried to clarify and provide information that would contradict the advisory group comments. Why?, probably the commission is rubber stamping the proposed South side project.
    The plan controversy ignited back in December when the South East Comprehensive Plan approved by the Common Council was used by an alderman to keep AK Food Mart in Bay View from getting a Class “A” Malt license. At a License Committee hearing on December 15, 2008 they even brought Michael J. Maierle, Urban Planner from DCD to testify that it wouldn’t further the development plan, if a license was granted.
    But a month later Ald. Tony Zielinski spear headed the approval of a liquor license to another business under construction called the Tonic Tavern in the 2300 block of S. KK without advising the neighborhood residents as required by law. Currently, Zielinski is a member of the License Committee and why hasn’t the DCD filed a formal complaint against Ald. Zielinski with the Common Council for violating the approved plan.
    The South side Comprehensive plan which includes the 12th Aldermanic district and portions of Aldermanic districts 8, 11, 13, and 14 goes before the Zoning, Neighborhoods, and Development Committee, on May 19, at 9:00 a.m. in Room 301 B, City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. Finally, the Common Council is scheduled to vote on the plan on May 27, at 9:00 a.m. in the Common Council Chambers in Room 301 B at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

  3. May 21, 2009 7:27 pm

    City Zoning Committee Unanimously Adopted Resolution

    Spanish speaking taxpayers left out of the planning process

    May 21, 2009

    Milwaukee (ECNN) -Numerous Latino residents went before the City Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Tuesday to express opposition to the Near South Side Plan. Residents said the lack of information and a Spanish version of the plan left a majority of the community out of the process. The Near South Side district is a diverse, but predominantly Hispanic community, a population of 56% according to Milwaukee Department of City Development (DCD).
    The residents addressed their concerns to the five member panel of Aldermen James Witkowiak, Tony Zielinski, Robert J. Bauman, Willie C. Wade, and Michael Murphy that the plan was not provided in Spanish prior to the April 20 City Plan Commission approval. A four-page summary of the 200-page plan was later posted in Spanish on the DCD web site.
    H. Nelson Goodson, a South side resident said, complained to the City Plan Commission in April that a majority of the Latino community was left out of the planning process, due to the lack of information about the plan in Spanish.
    “Historic Mitchell, W. National and W. Lincoln business districts were seen as mix commercial, and the plan failed to acknowledge the present Latino businesses or to enhance their growth along these corridors. Also, the planners wrote, ‘the area is home to many new immigrants some are legal and some are illegal.’ But did not mention that many of the immigrants are tax paying residents and property owners on the South Side. The statement should not have been included in the plan, and should be removed. The plan should be tabled or postpone until the revisions and amendments are included,” Goodson said. Alderman Wade agreed with Goodson and instructed the planners to remove the statement about identifying new Immigrants as “legal and illegal.”
    Other concerns from area residents were the lack of green space, and youth recreation. Ald. Zielinski told the planners that his task force had acquired five acres on S. 5th St. and W. Harrison St. for an indoor soccer field and wanted it added on the plan.
    Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera told the Zoning Committee, that the plan wasn’t in Spanish to help inform the Latino community. “If the emphasis is going to be in any language, it should be in Spanish. If it’s not going to be bilingual…make the forums in Spanish, because that’s the bulk of the majority that have to give input,” Neumann-Ortiz said.
    Juan Luis Gutierrez, Board Vice President of Voces de la Frontera said, “the people that live in my district weren’t fully informed. It’s unjust for the people who work so hard to provide a future for their children, and pay taxes were wiped of the map by not informing them about the plan in Spanish. The proof is evident, that there was no information provided in Spanish before it was approved by the City Plan Commission meeting in April. The Latino community is not being taken into account in the plan. The committee should table the plan and inform the community and let the community decide their future and if the community approves the plan later, Voces de la Frontera will support it.” Neumann-Ortiz translated for Gutierrez.
    Maria Monreal-Cameron, President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Management Contract Team for the plan, unexpectedly interrupted the meeting by standing up and asking Gutierrez if he spoke any English. Gutierrez responded very limited English. Alderman Wade asked Ald. Witkowiak to restore order. Monreal-Cameron apologized and said her action was out of habit.
    Juana Mora, a South side resident also said, she went throughout the neighborhood and asked people if they knew anything about the plan. “None of the people I spoke with were aware of the plan.” The only source of information available was El Conquistador Newspaper who was informing the community about the plan and how it was real important to get involve. Why didn’t the planners provide any information in Spanish? Why wasn’t the Spanish media contacted?
    Alderman Witkowiak, Committee Chair said, the planning meetings weren’t covered by the English media, neither. He didn’t know why?
    “There was absolutely no purpose in translating a huge draft and you have to underscore draft into Spanish. Once all the input was gathered; once all the meetings were done; once all the tours had been done, then there would be a document summary in Spanish and now currently its on the web site (DCD)… The plan is just that, it’s a plan and it’s not a mandate written in stone… What I don’t want to see here gentlemen, and truly don’t want to see here is the crab mentality to surface once again and will pull those down and contain them, and will not let progress happen. We are open to all legitimate points. We know there’s going to be controversy, we know there is going to be opposition, we know that, and underscore legitimate, we are open to any legitimate concerns, and certainly we would work as group. We would bring people into committee and they can be part of the committee,” Monreal-Cameron, said. Monreal-Cameron’s offer comes to late since both the City Plan Commission and the Zoning Committee have already approved the plan.
    Ald. Wade disagreed with Monreal-Cameron and asked, why is it a problem to have information translated? “It should be a priority.” Monreal-Cameron said, “we did our very, very, very best to try to be as inclusive as humanly possible.” Which Ald. Wade responded, “you may have done your best, but in my estimation your best was not good enough.”
    “The Hmong people should have been represented too. They need to know it’s their houses, it’s their kids, it’s their grand kids, it’s their investment, it’s their future, it’s their tax dollars, they need to know what’s going on from the beginning,” said Ald. Wade as his statement drew applauds from the public.
    Despite the South Side Area Plan has not been translated into Spanish, Ald. Wade moved to approve the plan and Ald. Murphy second the approval of the Near South Side Comprehensive Plan resolution. The plan passed unanimously.
    The Zoning, Neighborhoods, & Development Committee replay of the 5/19/09 meeting will be aired in the City Channel 25 on cable on Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 4:30 p.m.
    The plan now goes before the Common Council to vote on the plan on May 27, at 9:00 a.m. in the Common Council Chambers in Room 301 B at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

  4. May 31, 2009 12:13 am

    Common Council Approves Near South Side Area Plan

    Development plan considered discriminatory towards new immigrants, low-income residents, and Latino businesses along the Historic Mitchell, W. National and W. Lincoln Ave. corridors

    May 29, 2009

    Milwaukee (ECNN)- On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Common Council on a vote of 14-0 adopted the Near South Side Comprehensive Area Plan resolution. The crafters of the plan include, the consulting firm of HNTB, Department of City Development (DCD) planners, the Contract Management Team, and funding partners. The planners have been criticized by South side residents for creating one of the most controversial development plans in Milwaukee’s history. “I strongly believe, crafters of the plan discriminated against Spanish speaking taxpayers. The mere fact, that no public announcements about the planning sessions and invitations were ever provided in Spanish when the planning initially began in 2007 proves a majority of the Spanish speaking community were left out of the process. In April 20, the City Plan Commission approved the plan even though complaints were made about the lack of information in Spanish concerning the plan. Historic Mitchell, W. National and W. Lincoln business districts were seen as mix commercial, and the plan failed to acknowledge the present Latino businesses or to enhance their growth along these corridors. Also, the planners wrote, ‘the area is home to many new immigrants some are legal and some are illegal.’ The statement should not have been included in the plan, and should have been removed,” H. Nelson Goodson, a South side resident said.
    On May 19, the Zoning Committee headed by Alderman James Witkowiak who represents the 12th Aldermanic District where the predominately Hispanic community resides approved the plan unanimously.
    The only positive change was to provide a four-page summary of the 200-page plan, which was later posted in Spanish on the DCD web site, according to Goodson. The planners have been reluctant to make any changes and have failed to amend the plan to include aldermen requests. Alderman Tony Zielinski wanted an indoor Soccer Complex included in the plan on S. 5th St. and W. Harrison St. and Ald. Michael Murphy wanted to promote Latino Arts Council in the plan. The plan passed ‘as is’ on Wednesday.

  5. June 12, 2009 1:13 pm

    Milwaukee Zoning Committee Approves Use Of Eminent Domain To Take Land

    Aldermen passed land acquisition after proposed Latino restaurant and nightclub denied liquor license

    By H. Nelson Goodson
    June 11, 2009

    Milwaukee – Last Tuesday, the city’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee decided on a 4-0 to approve a land acquisition resolution for job creation and development growth in the S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. corridor. The Zoning committee is chaired by South side 12th District Alderman James Witkowiak.
    During the meeting, Elaine Miller from the Department of City Development (DCD) told the the committee members that “the city is exercising eminent domain…that will facilitate the expansion of Pete’s Fruit Market in the area of 16th and Greenfield and will contribute to the revitalization of the area.” The privately owned properties at 1443 and 1445-47 South Muskego Avenue were blight designated to facilitate the acquisition of the land by the Redevelopment Authority two weeks ago, according to Miller. The properties are currently owned by Anna and Eligio Cetina. The Cetina’s bought the land in 2002 and their business plan was to built a Mayan flavor food restaurant and night club. They previously received a liquor license, but expired due to various requests for basic improvements of their property by the DCD, which prevented them from developing their land, according to the Cetina’s. The property is not considered a nuisance and has never been cited as such.
    The Cetina’s land acquisition resolution now goes before the full Common Council for approval on June 16th. The Cetina family plans to file a civil suit once the city takes final action to seize the land.
    This action by the City of Milwaukee caught the attention of former U.S. Attorney and radio talk show host Jeff Wagner who said on Wednesday during his radio show on WTMJ 620 AM, “I think is shameful, I think this is gross abuse of eminent domain.”
    Eminent Domain is used to purchase land for public interest such as building highways, public schools, hospitals and government facilities.
    Pete Tsitiridis, owner and operator of Pete’s Fruit Market at 1400 S. Union St. wants to built a $5.7 million, 51,790-square-foot expansion of his business. Ald. Witkowiak said he supports the expansion, which is not surprising considering that Witkowiak’s campaign contribution records indicate that three members of the Tsitiridis family have donated the $2,000 collectively to Witkowiak’s campaign in 2008.
    In May, the Zoning Committee also approved the South side Comprehensive Area Plan considered discriminatory towards new immigrants, low-income residents, and Latino business growth.
    The crafters of the plan included, the consulting firm of HNTB, Department of City Development (DCD) planners, the Contract Management Team, and funding partners. The planners have been criticized by South side residents for creating one of the most controversial development plans in Milwaukee’s history.
    In April 20th, the City Plan Commission approved the plan even though complaints were made about the lack of information in Spanish concerning the plan.
    The DCD and the planners failed to included the proposed Pete’s Market expansion in the S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. corridor and in the South side comprehensive plan when it was finally approved by the Common Council on May 27th. Implying, the HNTB Consulting and DCD’s continued practice of deceit and not providing information to the public and taxpayers they are paid to serve.

  6. June 13, 2009 5:41 pm

    A letter sent from the Cetina family:

    Communism in Milwaukee?

    My family owns 3 vacant city lots at the 1443,1445-47 block of Muskego Ave. Our dreams and property were both taken away by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM). 3 well maintained lots with grass has now been declared by RACM to be “blighted”. This means green open space is somehow “detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare.” Now that RACM has declared our property to be blighted, they are taking it by eminent domain. They have become the arm twisting hand of Pete’s Marketplace that will force the sale of our property. What happened to the rights of property owners to develop their own property and fulfill their dreams? Why is my family punished for being a working class family that does not have millions available for development? Why has RACM taken away my family’s rights as property owners and given them to a rich developer? If RACM decides your neighbor has better plans for development, beware, as your ownership rights may be taken away too. The protections of the law which prohibits the government from taking unblighted property in order to convey it to a private entity apparently no longer applies to RACM. [32.03(6)(b)].[wis.stat]

    Sincerely from a Hispanic Family,

    Rafael Cetina and Familia
    June 11, 2009

  7. women4justice permalink
    June 14, 2009 1:41 pm

    I have to say… that i find it ironic that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal would mock and criticize the Tsiders(sp?) family(owners of Pete’s Market) for freedom of speech. Giving a campaign contribution is in the very essence is freedom of speech. Here we have a journalists exercising his freedom of speech criticizing someone else’s freedom of speech! What Bigots the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal has employed there. Seems to me like the Milwaukee journal Sentinal is on a witch hunt! How about the countless others, Gwen Moore, Governor Doyle, Pedro Colon, Mayor Barret…… who all receive campaign contributions!. Witkowiak has done nothing wrong…. This area does not need more clubs….. we need food for the people who live in this partial residential area, one of the most density places in the city of Milwaukee. I applaud witkowiak for his decision…….His courage has prevented a man who has spent years getting his act together from holding the community hostage… If he cant get it together now, what does this tell us about how he will act and respond to the community once he has his club in a mostly residential area… If he can’t get his act together now… im sure he wouldn’t do a good job later. By the way Witkowiak has never, never, gone unopposed. This is the most sought after aldermatic district in the City. It is also the district with the most businesses in it.

  8. June 19, 2009 8:33 pm

    Eminent Domain Takeover Of Cetina’s Land Put On Hold

    Alderman Witkowiak makes motion to keep the eminent domain resolution for land grabbing in Council

    By H. Nelson Goodson
    June 17, 2009

    Milwaukee -On Tuesday, June 16, the Common Council supported a motion by Alderman James Witkowiak, to keep the eminent domain resolution to takeover the land owned by Eligio Cetina in council. Witkowiak said that the Cetina family was planning to submit redevelopment plans for their property. Witkowiak said, that in all fairness, the Common Council should allow time for the Cetina’s to submit the plans.
    “Recently the owner of the property has contended that I’ve somehow been unfair…Characterizing me as some kind of villain, that I engineered the deal with Pete’s Fruit Market. That is not the case whatsoever,” Witkowiak said.
    The property plans to establish a Mexican Mayan Restaurant will be submitted soon, according to Rafael Cetina. The Cetina’s were happy to hear that the city is giving them time to submit the business plan.
    The city wants to take Cetina’s property, and it was exercising eminent domain to facilitate the expansion of Pete’s Fruit Market in the area of S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. and Greenfield and will contribute to the revitalization of the area. Anna and Eligio Cetina own the properties at 1443 and 1445-47 South Muskego Avenue. The two land parcels were blight designated to facilitate the acquisition of the land by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in late May.
    The Redevelopment Authority and the Department of City Development (DCD) have no record of ever citing the Cetina’s properties for any kind of violations that would actually classify them as blighted.
    Alderman Bob Bauman said he was ready to vote for approval of using eminent domain on the Cetina’s property. The Cetina’s had their opportunity to be heard during the prior Zoning Committee meeting and everything was done properly, according to Bauman. During the Zoning Committee meeting on June 9th, the Redevelopment Authority and DCD never introduced or cited any kind of the violations to classify the Cetina’s land as blighted.
    Pete Tsitiridis, owner and operator of Pete’s Fruit Market at 1400 S. Union St. wants to built a $5.7 million, 51,790-square-foot expansion of his business that would include Cetina’s property.

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