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Greenfield elederly home project advances to Common Council

Neighbors expressed displeasure with group home in residential area

April 15, 2014

Greenfield — On a 5-2 vote, a controversial proposal to build an eight-bed group home for the elderly was sent on its way to the Greenfield Common Council by the Plan Commission last week.

The two votes against came from Mayor Michael Neitzke and Ald. Karl Kastner who along with the rest of the council will take up the request May 6.

Enlightened Investments has asked to build a 4,300-square-foot community-based residential facility at 4900 S. 68th St., next to the smaller eight-bed CBRF the company has operated for 14 years and near single-family homes.

The proposal meets all city requirements as to setbacks and parking, but there is a fear that granting permission would set a precedent for having side-by-side CBRFs that could result in a concentration of them along one street or in one neighborhood. Neighbors also said the building, although smaller than originally proposed, is still too large and institutional-looking.

An understanding, however, was expressed that such facilities are needed and that a home just as large as the proposed CBRF could be built there anyway if the group home proposal fails.

Answering the concern about setting a precedent, Kris Kiefer, co-owner of Enlightened Investments, said Oak Creek, Franklin and New Berlin already allow side-by-side group homes. But all three examples are large facilities not allowed in single-family neighborhoods.

Creek Side Terrace in Oak Creek consists of two buildings, 25 and 20 rooms each. Lake Terrace in Franklin has two buildings with 24 and 20 rooms each plus a 48-room building in Greendale that also is part of the Lake Terrace campus. Similarly, Applewood in New Berlin has two buildings, 20 rooms each.

After the meeting, Kevin Kiefer, a co-owner of Enlightened Investments, said several on the commission saw that the company is trying to do the best for the neighborhood and the community.

Changes have been made to accommodate concerns including reducing the size of the building to 4,300 square feet, turning it on the lot so that it presents only 65 feet to the street and providing a buffer for neighbors, Kris Kiefer said.

"There's a definite need in the community," he said.

Neighbor Ron Pietraszewski, a neighbor who spoke against the proposal, said: "CBRFs are intended to besparsely distributed throughout the community and not to form their own community."

Commission member Denise Collins said she was glad to find such a facility for a couple of family members who needed them.

Also voting to recommend the CBRF was Steve Rogers who said a second CBRF could be better for neighbors than a large home or several homes because the CBRF would share a driveway with the original group home. If the land is going to be built on, this would be less intrusive than a home with a separate driveway, he said.

Speaking strongly against side-by-side CBRFs, Mayor Michael Neitzke said, "I have a problem with the campus sort of thing."

There are two CBRFs in his neighborhood and they look like homes. That's the experience that legislators intended for those living in and near group homes, he said. But the side-by-side arrangement makes the situation a pseudo institutional setting, he said.

"I sympathize incredibly with the neighbors," Neitzke said.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Greenfield Common Council consideration of a proposal to build a 4,300 square foot eight-bed group home for the elderly beside a smaller eight-bed group home

WHEN: 7 p.m. May 6

WHERE: Greenfield City Hall, 7325 W. Forest Home Ave.

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