Opposition over proposed development in Adams Co.

“Do we want this in our backyard?” Neighbors say no.
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 8:09 PM CDT
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ADAMS COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) - A proposed zoning change in Adams County is drawing backlash from neighbors in the Town of New Haven.

“Do we want this in our backyard? It’s kind of scary,” said neighbor Daniel Oberdorf.

An Illinois nonprofit, Created For More Ministries, is seeking permission to develop part of a 48-acre property.

“A house, a garage for storage,” listed Derek Polansky, president of the nonprofit.

Polansky has not bought the property yet – he said he has made an offer, but it is dependent on the zoning change being approved.

Polansky’s nonprofit works with at-risk youth, providing mentoring and training opportunities. He wants to use the area as what he calls a “base camp” for five or six week-long trips every summer.

“We’ll go there for the first night and then for the next four days, three nights, we might be on the Wisconsin river,” Polansky explained.

Polansky also wants to use the property for weekend trips with the youth and volunteer retreats.

However, neighbors are worried. Created For More Ministries works with high-risk young men, which includes some formerly incarcerated individuals.

Neighbors have written more than a dozen emails to the Adams County Planning and Zoning Committee opposing the change.

“Not one email in my possession says we want this to go forward,” said Mary Wisniewski, a neighbor who has read some of the emails.

Neighbors are concerned about lower property values and safety.

“We have an 8-year-old who stays with us quite a bit, and we don’t know who’s going to be here,” Oberdorf said.

Polansky explained many of the kids he works with have never been incarcerated. Some come from suburban neighborhoods.

“We might have one kid that has come out of jail,” he said, adding that would be out of 10 to 20 people per trip.

Polansky also explained that his nonprofit works with kids for two to three years before even considering them for these trips.

“We have to know who you are, we have to be able to watch your life,” he said.

Safety is not neighbors’ only concern. Some neighbors believe Polansky’s plans do not fit under the zoning change proposed.

The application submitted is asking to re-zone five acres of the property to an A-3 Secondary Agricultural District. Adams County ordinances list the purposes of such a district as “to maintain, preserve, and enhance land historically used or suited for agricultural or agriculturally related purposes.”

“I don’t think this proposed change in zoning and what they plan to do preserves, enhances anything,” Wisniewski.

Adams Co. Zoning Administrator Dustin Grant told NBC15 the proposed zoning change would allow houses to be built. He also pointed out that it can allow religious use – Created For More Ministries is a Christian organization which plans to hold small ministries on the property.

Neighbors still want the county to say no.

“I would hope that they would reconsider and not have it zoned for this,” Oberdorf said.

The Adams County Planning and Zoning Committee will meet Wednesday, July 1 to make a decision on the zoning change. Residents can give public comment. If the zoning change is approved, it moves to the full county board for a final decision.

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.

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