By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — City officials made a recommendation Tuesday night to restrict the use of a building as a boarding house on Strawberry Ln.
“What if a fight breaks out during the day, or somebody brings in booze or drugs?– it could happen.” said planning commission member Fran Eron, who voted against the boarding house.
Eron echoed some of the many concerns of residents living in and around Strawberry Ln. that a boarding house would mean automatic troublesome tenants. Discussed previously, the city motioned to table the item until further conditions could be set to allow the rehabilitation of the property for a boarding house. The building in question has been vacant for nearly eight years now.
These conditions included:
-Bringing the number of allowed occupants of the boarding house from 10 to eight.
-Educating tenants on what to and what not to flush down building toilets.
-The installation of a six-foot privacy fence for a nearby neighbor.
-Security lighting installed in efforts to illuminate the area.
-Security cameras in common areas inside the boarding house, and outside of the property.
-Compliance with the city’s chronic nuisance ordinance.
-Locked front doors to the common area inside of the boarding house.
“We are here for land use approval, not discrimination.” said commission member Shane Burkart, who favored the boarding house.
Ultimately, the decision came down to rising fears that nobody will be on-site 24 hours a day to watch over potential parolees living inside the boarding house — something that’s not uncommon at all.
“My concern is really trying to develop that balance between health and safety in the community and not being discriminatory towards somebody,” said Public Works Director Joe Terry. “This is a challenging decision, but I do think this list of conditions help set the stage to prevent these problems that the folks here have been expressing concerns about.”
However, even with a total of 10 conditions, it still wasn’t enough to pass a favorable recommendation, as it fell short of approval with a 3-3 vote among commission members. Ultimately, the final decision still comes down to common council held on Sept. 19, where the issue will likely be discussed further by council members.