Group home frustration resonates with Stroebel

Senator calls village’s request for law requiring facilities to provide information to municipalities ‘more than reasonable’


Ozaukee Press staff

Concerns raised by Fredonia residents over two recently opened group homes in the village may lead to new state legislation that would require local officials be informed whenever such businesses come into a municipality.

“I completely understand the basis for your concerns regarding the lack of advance notification from the state prior to the opening of these facilities in the village,” state Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, wrote to the Village Board on Nov. 1. “Your proposed law change to help remedy this issue seems more than reasonable.”

Village trustees had written to Stroebel and state Rep. Rob Brooks, R-Saukville, about the new group homes, asking for a change in state law that would require such homes to inform municipalities of their “plan of operation, type of residents and opening date prior to opening.

“Both (homes) are in a residential area and just a block away from each other,” they wrote in their letter. “The neighbors are concerned about the safety and well-being of the children in the neighborhood. The marshal, fire department and ambulance service should have also been notified as this may have an impact on services needed.”

One home, at 233 N. Wilson St., is licensed for four bedrooms and is operated by Total Care Group of Port Washington. It opened in March.

The other is a two-bedroom facility, at 114 N. Wilson St., operated by Vencedora Housing, according to a letter from Village Attorney Johnathan Woodward submitted to the Village Board at a Sept. 1 meeting that was attended by 20 North Wilson Street residents. It opened in June.

Representatives of the group homes were not invited and did not attend the meeting, officials said.

Both homes house adults with developmental disabilities.

Under current law, the state licenses four types of assisted living facilities— adult family homes, like the two in Fredonia, community-based residential facilities, or CBRFs, residential care apartment complexes and adult day care centers.

Only CBRF operations currently are required to notify municipalities of their operations.

Despite residents’ concerns, Trustee John Long, who helped draft the letter to Stroebel and Brooks, said he has not heard of any incidents involving the homes’ residents.

Long said it’s important for village officials to know when group homes begin operating in the village.

“Then the fire department and police department would know, and if the neighbors asked we would have answers for them,” he said. “There is nothing we can do about them being there.”

Brooks is scheduled to attend the Village Board meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, to address trustees’ concerns.

Trustee Bruce Paape, whose wife owns a CBRF in Port Washington, voted against sending the letter to the legislators.

“I thought there was an easier way to address the issue than involving our legislators,” he said.

He suggested that the village pass an ordinance so that any new business would have to present themselves to the Plan Commission and be granted a conditional use permit and follow guidelines for fire protection.

He said other local communities have done so.

Paape pointed out that if criminals or child predators are housed in a group home,  for instance operated by the Department of Corrections, it is required that local police departments and even neighbors be notified.

“I was pretty upset about the insinuation (that children were in danger),” he said. “You can’t insinuate that there’s a threat to the neighbors. And you don’t have a right to know the medical conditions of the residents.”

In their letter to Stroebel and Brooks, trustees also expressed “concerns” with limits on raising the property tax levy in inflationary times and on reductions in state aid.

In his reply, Stroebel indicated there was little chance of levy limits being lifted, as far as he was concerned.

Noting that property tax levies have increased about 1.5-2% per year since levy limits were instituted in 2005, Wisconsin still has the seventh highest average property tax rate, Stroebel said.

“My office receives virtually no constituent contacts, other than from local elected officials and administrators, requesting an easing of levy limits so taxes can go up for local services,” he wrote.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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