May 15, 2017 – Town of Kewaskum, WI – There was quite a bit of debate Monday night at the Town of Kewaskum board meeting as members of the Plan Commission reviewed a conditional use permit for development of a Community Living Arrangement at 4265 County Highway H.
A public hearing before the Town Board started with a statement from Russ Wanta, executive director with Habitat for Humanity of Washington and Dodge Counties. Wanta talked about using the teachings of Jesus Christ to help rehabilitate men who may have strayed off a productive path in life.
Wanta and Kettlebrook pastor Troy Loether are the ones behind the Kairos Ranch; a property owned by Roger and Ann Neumann, is described as a “Community Living Arrangement consisting of a self-sustaining, self-funding Christian boarding house/transitional living ranch to reconcile vulnerable men to God.”
There were a number of people who spoke against the proposal as neighbors expressed concerns about safety, a drop in property values, and a lack of information on how the program would operate.
During the Town Board discussion Sandy Pasbrig brought up a number of issues including what the term “vulnerable man” actually meant.
There were also questions about the level of violent criminal past of some of the residents, how to screen potential residents with background checks, qualified staffing issues, neighborhood safety, how long a resident would be at the facility, and how contact with law enforcement would be measured.
After two hours of discussion the Plan Commission added several stipulations to the original proposal and then voted 6 – 1 to allow the proposal to move forward. Pasbrig was the only dissenting vote.
Rick Martens lives next to the property. “Ultimately from day 1 they hung ‘religion’ on it and at that point the board’s hands were tied,” he said. “I’m dead set against it … but it is what it is. They’re going to bring in the felons and just at the end of the day this was pushed down our throats.”
Bonnie Will lives adjacent to the property on Highway H. She said she wished she had been notified about the proposal. “I would just like to know more about it,” she said. “We’ve been neighbors with Neumanns forever and I just feel hurt they couldn’t explain or stop in and just stay something to us to let us know what’s happening.”
After the meeting Loether said he is excited but he also wants to do right by the community. “We want to address any concerns people have,” he said. “They expressed valid concerns tonight and we want to make sure we have our team ready to go and work hard toward that end.”
Loether said the home needs some rehab and this will take some time just to get things going.