Intervention by City Attorney Mark Leonard resulted in a different city staff recommendation regarding a fence request that was approved by the Sun Prairie City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.

City Planning Director Tim Semmann said last week, the Sun Prairie Plan Commission upheld a city planning staff recommendation to deny a conditional use permit (CUP) for a front yard fence higher than four feet in the 200 block of Prairie Clover Court.

However, in light of further review by the City Attorney’s office, Semmann recommended that the CUP be approved after discussing the permit with the applicant regarding allowances for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Semmann said the setback and the four foot height in the front are acceptable, and that the solid fence will allow very little room inside of it. Semmann also said he did not think the approval would be precedent-setting because of the special needs child living at the residence. Alders unanimously OK’d the CUP.

Proclamations presented

Mayor Paul Esser presented proclamations to the Optimist Club of Sun Prairie and VFW Post 9362 in observance of Buddy Poppy Days.

Tim Bryhan, Commander of Post 9362, accepted the proclamation recognizing the Veterans of Foreign Wars have been distributing “Buddy” Poppies since 1922. The Buddy Poppies are assembled by disabled veterans in Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals and state veteran’s homes throughout the nation.

The proceeds from the Buddy Poppy campaign are used exclusively to assist disabled and needy veterans and the widows and children of deceased veterans.

Bryhan confessed that he came to the council meeting last year, but forgot the poppies. This year, he had a large bucket containing poppies and contributions. This year, alders were ready to contribute money for the poppy, but District 4 Alder Al Guyant suggested next year that each alder and city official contribute $2.

Members of the Sun Prairie Optimists not only thanked the mayor for the proclamation, but also gave each alder and city official plastic drinking cups with the Optimist logo on them in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Optimist International.

The Southern WI District (SWIS) has Optimist Clubs made up of local community and business leaders, active and retired, dedicated to providing a helping hand to the youth in our communities who pursue the purposes of Optimist clubs which are to develop optimism as a philosophy of life, utilizing the tenants of the Optimist Creed, to promote an active interest in good government and civic affairs, and to inspire respect for law.

The proclamation also listed the mission of Optimist Clubs: to provide hope and positive vision to bring out the best in kids, thereby contributing to the betterment of communities and the SWIS District promotes patriotism and work towards international accord and friendship among all people.

District 3 Alder Maureen Crombie spoke to the council and thanked the mayor for the proclamation, but said she believed the SWIS Optimists were the best in the entire state (watch both videos on The Star’s website in the Videos section at

RFP for non-profits?

After a lengthy discussion, alders approved a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for awarding funds to non-profit entities beginning with the 2021 city budget.

The city currently provides funding to four entities for services that are provided to City of Sun Prairie citizens. These include the Colonial Club (senior services), YMCA (after school program), Sun Prairie Cemetery (maintenance), and Community Schools (neighborhood support services).

The City of Sun Prairie has a fully executable memorandum of understanding with Community Schools but none of the other entities.

The Finance Committee met on Aug. 13, 2019 to discuss the funding structure for these services and recommended the RFP process be used for funding services that are delivered through a non-profit entity.

Some alders balked at the possibility of non-profits locking the city into a three-year contract to provide services.

City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer said the contracts will include standard language for the city to “opt out” of any service provider for just cause. The three-year qualification period was placed in the resolution to allow non-profits to qualify to provide services to the city and not have to go through the review process each year if they remain a qualified non-profit entity.

City Council President Bill Connors pointed out the RFP process moves the funds from a “donation” status to a purchase of services.

The need for a service may be identified by staff or at the suggestion of the city council.

Guyant wanted to add the three year qualification as a requirement, but his amendment failed on a 5-3 vote.

Alders approved the RFP resolution on a 7-1 vote, with Guyant voting no.

Foss Swim School OK’d

Acting on an approval recommendation from the Sun Prairie Plan Commission, alders approved a Precise Implementation Plan (PIP) for a new Foss Swim School to be constructed at 2670 W. Main St.

The 10,000 sq. ft. Sun Prairie location will be the first Foss Swim School in Wisconsin, and registration is already being accepted on the company’s website.

The company, founded in 1993 by Jon and Susan Foss, teaches participants from six months to adult with the goal of progression and a long-term-goal to graduate as a complete swimmer. Foss Swim Schools measure mastery of skills, not just class completion, as a sign of readiness to move on.

Park 151 items


Acting on Sun Prairie Plan Commission approval recommendations, alders voted to approve two items relating to the Park 151 Business Park.

Alders voted 7-1 to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to Establish a Distribution Center Use at 2840 Innovation Way in the Park 151 Business Park.

The lone no vote came from District 1 Alder Steve Stocker, who complained the distribution center will not provide a large number of jobs and takes up a large amount of valuable land within the park, “so I will be voting no.”

Alders unanimously approved the second Park 151 item — to rename a segment of Capitol Drive to Innovation Way.

Church CUP gets final approval

Acting on a Sun Prairie Plan Commission approval recommendation, alders voted unanimously to approve a CUP to Establish an Indoor Institutional Use (church) at 958-960 W. Main Street in the Main Shopping Center. The space was most recently occupied by a flower shop.

The church occupy approximately 2,600 sq. ft. of the 42,000 sq. ft. building and have a maximum occupancy of 157. The user, Miracles of Life Outreach, would offer bible study on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. and church services on Saturday nights at 6 p.m. Pastor Esperdell McGee, who also owns McGee’s Chicken in the same building, will conduct the services.

Sun Prairie-based Kontext Architects is the architect and Manstrong Construction will complete the buildout, with construction expected to begin in late September and be completed in six weeks.

Vaping review coming?

Stocker asked for City Attorney Leonard to review possible regulatory actions the City of Sun Prairie may take to license vaping vendors in the city.

Stocker said recent concerns about the health impacts of vaping resulted in his concerns that the city take some action to regulate the vaping businesses.

Leonard said he would conduct research about what other Wisconsin communities are doing, and send a memo to the council for consideration of any further action.

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