A couple changes could be in store for the Infinity Fields (formerly known as 5 Diamonds) baseball and softball complex in the Town of Waukesha.
This is a result of the Waukesha Town Board approving by a 4-1 vote a change in the zoning of the facility Les Paul Parkway (Highway 59/164) and Milky Way Road and its plan of operation at its board meeting June 13.
The board voted to change Infinity Fields from (R-1) residential to (P-1) zoning (Park, Recreation and Public District) and the plan of operation that allows the complex to stay open until 10:30 p.m. Previously, lights had to be out by 9:30 p.m. The approval also allows the park to open at 7 a.m., but co-owner Tom Kelenic noted a game will never start before 8 a.m.
"We cannot get umpires before 8 a.m.," Kelenic said. "There had never been a game that started before then and quite frankly there won't be one."
Town Planner Roger Dupler said the complex operated as residential because it was originally developed as part of the Deerfield Estates subdivision. At the time of consideration, the town approved the operation and created the conditional use to allow the recreational use in an area designated and zoned for residential use.
But according to Town of Waukesha Zoning Districts, the purpose of the park district is to allow for, protect and continue the existence of public and private outdoor park and recreation space and public lands and for the preservation and conservation of the natural environment and the recognition of uses which serve the public interest.
Permitted uses are subject to approval of a site plan and plan of operation. Uses range from bicycle trails, campsites, golf courses, tennis courts, hockey rinks, parks, playgrounds, skiing, sledding, swimming pools, among many other uses.
"This is the description of what 5 Diamonds is," Fischer said. "And that's why it belongs in a P-1 zoning category."
Laska votes no
However, Supervisor Mike Laska, who voted against the rezone, had a problem with labeling it as a park, which does not require an annual review.
"The fact is it's a private business," Laska said. "He closes the gates. I find the definition of P-1 to not thoroughly coincide with what we're trying to result. It's hardly a public park. It's a private business."
Marek, however, disputed Laska's claim.
"The P-1 zoning is exactly what 5 Diamonds is," Marek said. "It is private but you can't go to (Miller Park) and go play there, either. That's still a park but it has its limitations. It also is a private entity and you're not able to get onto that or other private parks."
Watching the permit
The fact that it wasn't a unanimous decision wasn't a surprise given the fact decisions on Infinity Fields have hardly been an easy or clear-cut.
The complex, which sits on 40 acres of property, has been under scrutiny and under a watchful eye from neighbors and the Town Board before and after it opened last year. This has been primarily in regard to Infinity Fields' original conditional-use permit on turning off the lights at the appropriate time.
Nearby residents say the owners, Kelenic and Greg Beatty (who founded the $2 million complex due to a lack of fields in Waukesha) have not followed the permit. Dupler said there were 40 violations of the permit last year but no citations were issued.
At a Town Board meeting last summer, players of the Waukesha Blazers, the main league that utilizes the fields, packed Town Hall praising the complex and said they have had the lights turned off before a game has been finished so the permit could be followed.
As a result, owners sought annexation into the City of Waukesha last fall as they said the city had a better understanding of operating a park. However, their request was denied.
Owners have said baseball is not a timed sport and when the games on certain fields are over they turn those lights off immediately.
"Very rarely does a game ever go past 10 p.m.," Kelenic said. "They don't all end (at the same time). As one gets done, one goes. There's never a time when lights are on that the field is not being used."
Limited sound system
Supervisor Joe Banske approved the rezone and updated plan but had concerns about an amplifier system as neighbors have voiced concerns over noise.
"I truly love (the complex)," Banske said. "It's awesome, but how do we provide to the neighbors reassurance that we won't have a portable amp. system? I'm trying to find a balance. We have to find some way to balance the $3 million of homes that are there and this wonderful project."
Kelenic, who said his complex is not wired for speakers, explained he would only use a public address system for a couple fundraisers a year. The plan says they would have to fill out a notification request to the Clerk's Office before each fundraiser.
County has final say
Assistant Town Attorney Doug Hoffer said there is a minimum $50 fine with a maximum of $1,000 if there would be a violation of the plan of operation.
"It isn't like we're going to hide anything," Kelenic said. "We're being watched. It's not in our interest to hide anything."
Town Clerk-Treasurer Jamie Salentine said the P-1 rezone is contingent of the land-use map revision, which requires a public hearing.
If the Town Board approves, the new land-use plan (including a draft of an ordinance) will go to the county level for final approval.
More time for residents
The Town of Waukesha Board also approved a plan that allows residents to comment for up to five minutes during the citizen comment portion of meetings. This is an increase from the three minutes previously allowed after Marek was elected chairman in April.
Before that, with Angie E. Van Scyoc as the chairwoman, there wasn't a limit on the amount of time people could speak at the beginning of the meetings.
The five-minute policy states questions or comments directed to an individual supervisor or staff person will be deemed out of order by the Town Board chair. All comments, questions, and concerns should be presented in a respectful, professional manner and no public response or applause to any citizen comment is permitted and will be deemed out of order.