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Letter: Proposed ordinance could drive homeowners out

To the Editor-

Generational. You Decide.

After attending the City Plan Commission meeting on Feb. 7, I feel there are some things to evaluate and clarify.

Several people in the audience (virtual and present) spoke against having an ADU/ACU in their neighborhoods. One person said she was in favor of it and proceeded to tell us all the reasons why it was such a great idea: you can make money by building or renovating an existing garage/shed and have people rent the “shack in the back.”

Or, as she said so confidently, it‘s a place you can send the kids or a place where a homeowner can escape from the kids. Those statements got me thinking about growing up in Stevens Point and also purchasing a house where my kids could grow up.

There are many things to consider.

First, most people purchase a house to make it a home. They don’t buy it to make it an income-producing building. It’s a place to experience your family, friends, neighbors, and others, in a pleasant setting, while having a job to make the money you need.

You actually know the names of your neighbors and all those important things that contribute to your respect for one other. When someone passes, you know it’s time to make a gift of food to the home. You offer to help when someone’s life has taken a bad turn. You respect one another. Lights off, sounds muted, etc. when needed, and generally, a kindness shown to one another day after day. You respect them and they respect you. Oh, I repeat myself.

You have a place where you and your family can hear birds sing, watch the antics of the squirrels and chipmunks, you can look for four-leaf clovers in the green areas, you can add a garden, flowers, trees, bushes, a water feature, a play area for the children, a barbecue, a picnic table, possibly a pool, or at the very least, a sprinkler to run through when the temperature reaches the 80’s.

These additions help to make your house a home. Otherwise, it is just a building. Those of us who spoke want to maintain our homes. We don’t want the invasion of buildings that accommodate renters looking out at you and your family trying to enjoy life amid all the upheaval you now have. We want to maintain our privacy.

We want our children to be able to play night games (for you that don’t know what those are, it’s a place to play all sorts of outside games in the evening before it gets too dark to see, or your parents call you in, whichever comes first). I grew up where all the neighbor kids enjoyed that wonderful time. I was able to give that same pleasure to my children.

We’ve already been told by city planner (Ryan) Kernoskey that the city plans to have owner-occupied for 10 months in any ADU (a much better plan, he says, than the six months he originally proposed), but during the meeting at St. Paul Methodist Church for the District 8 property owners, he told us that there is no way anyone can knock on the door of the primary home and ask to see property deed of said home or the photo ID of the homeowner.

So, even though he says he’s corrected many of the issues of the proposal to allow ADU/ACU buildings on any property that lot size permits, there is no way to enforce anything attached to that proposal. The place you called home is just a building to get money according to our community development department and company. I disagree. We need to embrace the families who still live here.

People who take pride in owning a piece of land and a home are people who respect one another. The ideas set forth by a small handful of people are not those of the majority of our residents. You are driving people away with your ideas that may work in a large city.

Mayor Wiza suggested that some things the city does only benefit a few people, as per the ice rink on the square. This ADU/ACU proposal is not an ice rink. Our homes represent the most expensive thing many of us will purchase. It is not wasteful spending of a million dollars to build a splash pad that wastes 5.2 million gallons of water each summer.

Mr. Mayor, these are our homes, not a dalliance to spend on an ice rink or splash pad. The city officials also told us at the meeting that only neighbors will be responsible for reporting problems. Oh great! Another way to bring “harmony” to our neighborhoods.

When will our city officials listen to us? When will they understand that we don’t need any rentals built on present private lots where homes are appreciated and loved. If a neighbor builds an ACU/ADU, they may eventually see a return on their investment. However, the rest of the neighbors watch their homes depreciate, pitting neighbor against neighbor.

When a few people choose to have what they want against the wishes of the people that surround them, then they are showing complete and utter disrespect to the entire community that is their neighborhood. Being self-centered, selfish, greedy, and self-seeking is not a quality you should strive for. However, that is exactly what you are accomplishing.

To prove that we don’t need ADU/ACUs, here are some statistics that show that NO building on present lots is needed:

  • Berkshire has 88 units
  • North Side Yard has 85 units with 70 now available, with more planned (200 total)
  • The Convent Area will have 85 income limited units by the end of 2022 and 17 townhouse units (102 total)
  • The Point Motel project will have 79 units
  • The Kmart site has 113 units.

I’ll refresh your memory regarding the statistics I’ve used before: UWSP has had eight out of nine declining enrollment years, the city population is down 1,075 people from 10 years ago, and a recent article indicates that Wisconsin is headed for trouble. According to the study, SLOWING DOWN: Wisconsin’s Waning Population Growth, the state’s population increased by only 3.6%, making us among the slowest growing states in the country. Wisconsin’s “under 18” populations fell 4.3%, more than double the 2.1% decline during 2000 and 2010.

The facts don’t lie. I hope the city will awaken and void the proposal for ADU/ACUs. We are not interested in tearing this community and our neighborhoods apart.

Ruth Pfiffner
Stevens Point

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