The Minocqua plan commission Tuesday approved an administrative review permit (ARP) application from David Scotney to expand the existing patio and outdoor seating at the building which formerly housed the Minocqua Brewery. 
Scotney, owner of Oakfire Pizza, was unable to attend the March 30 plan commission meeting when the ARP was tabled. 
Tuesday, he was there to answer questions and explain other plans for the Oakfire Minocqua location, an addition to others Scotney has in Kenosha and Lake Geneva. 
During the course of the meeting, it was made clear one of the plan commission’s major concerns — that being the original plans called for some encroachment by the business onto neighboring town-owned Torpy Park — had been addressed. 
However, there were questions about other aspects, such as plans by Scotney not to have a tall fence around part of the business’s east side removed and replaced with something along the lines of a three foot tall fence or barrier between outdoor tables at the business and the park itself. 
That discussion was initiated by plan commissioner Tom Church, who said he favored a seven foot tall fence. 
“We don’t want product being passed to and from your people to others standing there in the park,” he told Scotney. “I think ... no, I guarantee that’ll happen.”
There was discussion about a much shorter fence between the Oakfire outdoor seating and Torpy Park, possibly 36 inches in height, which ultimately became a condition of the ARP when the motion was later made for approval. 
The back and forth about the fence prompted a comment from plan commission chairman Mark Hartzheim, who said he felt things were going “too far” as far as comments, suggestions and recommendations. 
“We have a business that wants to come here and has an exciting concept that we all think is going to be highly successful,” he said. “Whether it’s a four foot fence, a three foot fence or a seven foot fence, it’s not going to effect how people access it from the park or not. It’s going to be an eyesore if you have a seven foot solid fence. It’s gonna be ugly for us (the town) and it’s gonna be ugly for patrons of the business.”
Hartzheim said he saw no reason it couldn’t be an open fence. 
“I think we’re trying to prevent problems that may or may not present themselves,” he said, adding if there were problems in the future, they could be addressed in a conditional use permit or CUP “down the road.”
“But to say, ‘You have to have a solid fence here’ is gonna be less attractive for both the public and the patrons,” Hartzheim said. “The good thing we’ve got going here is this is entirely self-contained on their (Oakfire’s) property. They maintain everything, they’re not encroaching anywhere on public property and they’re providing a means of ingress and egress to the lake, to the parking lot and to the main entrance.”
Later, before Hartzheim called for a vote after a motion and second was made, he asked Scotney when Oakfire might be opening. 
Scotney said that was a great question, explaining the business’s staffing was probably in the 80-85% range, but the goal is to have the business ready for a May 1 open. 
“I wanted to say we are excited to be part of the Minocqua community,” he said. “In Lake Geneva, we’ve given back tens of thousands of dollars to charity. We’ve partnered with the local food pantry. We fed 150 people through the food pantry for Thanksgiving last year. We’re really excited to bring jobs to the area, we’re excited to partner with the local community and in trying to get involved and support the community. We’re hoping to create a lot of revenue and jobs here.”
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.