Council sends blight map back to RDA

Public hearing on action plan canceled
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Leader Photo by Tim Ryan Resident John Baird III speaks in opposition to the Redevelopment Authority’s proposed blight district map at the Shawano Common Council meeting Wednesday at City Hall.

Shawano city officials Wednesday sent a proposed blight district map back to the Redevelopment Authority for an overhaul.

A public hearing on the RDA’s action plan scheduled for Thursday was canceled.

The Common Council’s vote followed public comment from more than a dozen residents blasting the inclusion of their properties in the district and criticizing the city for planning to vote on the map prior to a public hearing.

“As I see it, you’ve put the cart before the horse,” Bart Huntington said. “Tomorrow is the public comment period and you want to pass these resolutions before you give us a chance to give our comments.”

Deb Noffke called for the city to remove a number of properties from the RDA list that she said are not blighted but were included in the district to reach the 50 percent required to designate a blight district.

“This is a stretch and an overreach to try to attain the 50 percent you statutorily need in order to declare us a slum,” she said.

“My big question is, how do we get off of (the list),” John Mondus said. “Once you’re blighted, I don’t see any wording about how you get removed and are no longer a blighted piece of property.”

Several speakers said the designation would lower the value of their properties.

City Administrator Brian Knapp said the district’s boundaries needed to be set prior to the public hearing, which would have focused on the RDA’s plan of action for dealing with blighted properties within the district.

Alderwoman Sandy Steinke said some of the properties are clearly no longer blighted, though they might have been when property assessments were made last year.

“I think the plan needs to be revised or reviewed,” she said.

City Attorney Tim Schmid said setting the boundaries would not have addressed whether any particular property in the district is or isn’t blighted.

“What you’re being asked to do now is approve the boundaries,” he said. “The public hearing will address what the plan should be, what properties should be addressed, how they should be handled. You’d have a plan presented and the public hearing would be for, is the plan a good plan? Is it not a good plan? Should the plan be modified?”

Despite repeated attempts to clarify the issue from Schmid, Knapp and RDA Chair Amanda Sheppard, the council voted 5-1 to send the map back to the RDA to have its boundaries reconsidered.

Alderman Woody Davis cast the sole no vote.