Neighbors say they don't want a group home near their property. The nuns say they just want to be members of the community. After compelling comments from both sides, the Fox Point Village Board declined their request Tuesday evening by a narrow vote, leaving the nuns to find new residency.
"The Sisters want to live here because they love the community, love the home and want to be part of the community," Robb Marcus, attorney for the nuns said.
Five, unrelated women asked the village board to amend an ordinance that says only up to three, unrelated adults can live in Fox Point within the same home. But this isn't just a group of friends, these women are the Daughters of Charity, parishioners of St. Vincent de Paul who have ministered in the Milwaukee area since 1842.
Marcus attempted to explain that the women are ready to take any specific restrictions necessary to allow them to purchase the home at 7860 N. Mohawk Rd. However the purchase of the home is contingent that a special arrangement be made to override the current Fox Point ordinance that only up to three unrelated people can live in the same home.
While board members acknowledged these women would be prime candidates for this kind of special permit, they are concerned about the future implications on the village. Residents agreed, voicing their apprehension to the change.
Paul Schwartz lives across the street from the property in question. He says that while it's nothing personal, this could open the floodgates for a much bigger problem.
"My concern is certainly not with these fine people who would be wonderful members to our community, but it's the long-term impact," Schwartz said. "We're more than doubling the number of unrelated persons who can live on a property and I am worried about the floodgate opening here."
Schwartz continued to explain that changing the ordinance could change the character of the neighborhood, and not in a good way.
Board President Michael West opted to have Village Attorney Eric Larson look into a possible conditional use permit as opposed to rezoning, but was met with nay votes from a majority of the board. The motion for further review was denied 4-3.
"I'm exceptionally uncomfortable without a case-by-case study," trustee Christine Symchych said.
"I'm uncomfortable going down this path," trustee Eric Fonstad said. "Distinctions have been made, but any way you cut it, it's a group home. It erodes the residential character of the village."