Hebron House Director 'Disappointed' With Apartment Building Delays
Bernie Juno, executive director of non-profit housing organization, was surprised with opposition to apartment building proposal on Summit Ave. Mayor Jeff Scrima spoke out against the buildings, saying it would set "bad precedent."
Bernie Juno, executive director for Hebron House of Hospitality, was "disappointed" to learn the Waukesha Plan Commission held off on approving the housing organization’s plans for one-bedroom apartments at 620 Summit Ave.
The two four-unit apartments are designed for single individuals who have demonstrated they have the independence to live on their own. Hebron House of Hospitality, which helps keep homeless families, men and women off the streets, views the apartments as a permanent housing solution.
“I am pretty surprised at the outcome,” said Juno, who was not present at the meeting Wednesday night where the decision was made.
Hebron House first brought forward plans for the apartments, which The Business Journal described as “for people with disabilities,” in January 2010. The plans were scaled back after Hebron House listened to objections from the neighbors and took part in meetings with Alderman Joe Pieper.
Hebron House was pleased to offer affordable housing with support services, said Juno, who shied away from labeling its residents as being disabled.
“They are all people who have pretty much proved they can live independently and can be participating members of society,” said Juno. “This is permanent housing. It does carry with it a lot of support serves from Hebron House to make sure if people do have issues or do start having needs that they might not be able to address on their own, we can help them.”
Despite making changes to the two-year-old plans, the proposal was delayed Wednesday night when the Plan Commission reviewed the plans. City staff brought up the need for additional landscaping or fencing, but the revised plans for the ranch-style apartments did not please Mayor Jeff Scrima, who chairs the commission.
“We are trying to squish in two four-family (homes) on a street that is full of older single family (homes),” Scrima said.
Scrima was unhappy that street elevation photos were not included in the presentation, that there wasn’t a good drawing of the front elevations of the front elevation and that not all the neighbors were notified.
Doug Koehler, a planner for the city, clarified that neighbor notification is not required for the project unless there was a request for a zoning code change or if the apartments required a conditional-use permit.
Still, Scrima said the apartments fit in with the neighborhood.
“We would be setting, in my opinion, bad precedence if we were to approve this tonight,” Scrima said.
Commissioner Kevin Larson disagreed with Scrima’s comments, saying he wouldn’t expect notifications go out to the neighbors.
Pieper, who does not serve on the commission, said area neighbors were much happier with the development, especially since is proposed to be single-story.
“I believe the design does fit better into the neighborhood,” Pieper said.