Friday, December 9th, 2016

Walgreens decision not so Smart

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Last night the Town of Waukesha approved changing the planning for five properties from residential to commercial, a move necessary to accomodate a proposed new Walgreens store. Town Supervisor Steve Smart broke the deadlock by voting in favor of the proposal despite his very public insistence that he would stay completely out of the issue and abstain on all voting because of a conflict of interest.

Smart had repeated his intention to abstain on all matters concerning the proposed Walgreens when I interviewed him in preparation for this column for the Waukesha Freeman, and Smart did abstain at the October 8th meeting. The vote to change the planning for those properties tied 1-1, stopping the change from going forward.

At the meeting Thursday night, Smart again stated that he had a financial interest in the project, but this time stated that he did not have an issue with voting for the change in town planning for those properties. The change now goes to the Waukesha County Board for approval.

Opponents of the Walgreens are outraged by this turn of events, and it is my understanding they will be contacting Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel on Friday to demand an investigation to see if any state laws were broken. They are also considering hiring legal counsel in the matter.

This decision by Smart taints the whole process. Even if Schimel decides against getting involved, which would be a mistake, the County Board and County Executive Dan Vrakas have a moral obligation to reject the land planning change until the Town of Waukesha can handle this issue in a responsible and ethical manner.

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