Taking a step toward ending its moratorium on developing community-based residential facilities (CBRFs), the Fort Atkinson City Council on Thursday held the first reading of an ordinance to provide licensing procedures for creating such facilities.
The regular council meeting was held Thursday due to Tuesday being election day.
A moratorium originally was put into place in September 2015 to allow city staff to review the possible burden CBRFs are placing on emergency services such as the police and fire departments, and emergency medical services. There are approximately 60 CBRFs in the community that hold more than 300 beds.
Through analysis of data, city staff, emergency services and owners of such facilities came together to development the ordinance. The Fort Atkinson Adult Care Consortium was formed in order to assist in the businesses providing regulation.
The intent was for the consortium and City of Fort Atkinson to complete a working definition of CBRFs within Fort Atkinson, complete a final draft ordinance to outline licensing procedures and initiate lobby efforts at the state and county level to improve efficiencies.
As stated in the proposed ordinance, the terms “foster home, group home, residential care facility for children and youth, treatment foster home, adult family home, boarding house, residential care apartment complex, assisted living facility and community-based residential facility” are defined individually (and usually with governing state statutes referenced) for the purpose of the ordinance.
However, they are collectively referred to as adult and juvenile community living arrangement (CLA) facilities within the document.
The anticipation is for the moratorium to be lifted upon passage of the ordinance at the council’s Dec. 18 meeting.
Thursday marked the first reading of the ordinance. Per city code, an ordinance must go through three readings prior to approval to allow for additional public comment.
No one spoke on the ordinance or any other issue at Thurday’s meeting.
Fort Atkinson Police Chief Adrian Bump highlighted the the concepts included in the proposal that previously had been advanced to the council via recommendations from the city’s Planning Commission and Ordinance Committee.
“I think it is as inclusive as we could possibly come up with and it has a good rounded approach to defining those homes in our city,” he said, noting that the ordinance also outlines the criteria for the permitting process that goes through the city’s Planning Commission and includes areas of concern for law enforcement and public service.
“Some of the nice things about it is really setting a standard so we know the homes are safe and we know they have plans in place when things don’t go right,” Bump said. “Also just holding them accountable to being good members of the community while trying to run their business and have a residential home at the same time.”
Bump noted that representatives of the all the emergency services — police, fire and ambulance — have sat at the table throughout the development of the ordinance. There were 17 different drafts of the ordinance before it was brought forth to the city’s Planning Commission and Ordinance Committee.
“It was definitely shared and we communicated and pushed it back and forth and worked through updates, changes and ideas that were implemented into it,” the chief said.
Also, he stressed that the FACC played a significant role in providing input into development of the ordinance.
“When we got to that end, last final draft they all voted to accept it as written and were happy with it,” Bump said. “I think it shows we took the right route in developing an ordinance that we think will work very well.”
Council member Jude Hartwick, who has been outspoken about bringing the moratorium to its conclusion, said he was impressed with the ordinance.
“One of the questions I always had was how can we define things and make this work,” he said.
During the course of the moratorium, Hartwick said, the council heard about developers escaping the city policy by hosting only a two-bedroom facility.
“I think this has done a good job of trying to encompass everything and capture them, so we can manage this and understand better,” he said.
Bump agreed with Hartwick’s assessment, noting that during the meetings, there was discussion about going from knowing very little about the CBRFs to knowing a lot about them.
“It took the period of time for everybody to really learn about what the affects of this and learning more about these homes and businesses within the community,” he said.
Currently, the City of Fort Atkinson is aware for certain of one developer who has been waiting for the moratorium to end and has been active in the FACC and development of the ordinance. Two others facilities had received approval for additional beds prior to the moratorium and still are developing those respective expansions.
The ordinance unanimously advanced to a second reading.
In other business, the council:
• Approved an ordinance eliminating semi-trailer parking on Mielke Drive and any on-street parking in the Klement Business Park.
The ordinance will take effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Leading up to that date, Fort Atkinson police will leave letters on drivers’ windshields advising them of the upcoming change.
It is expected that signage will be placed on Commerce Parkway advising that there is no parking on streets within the business park.
• Amended the ordinance pertaining to the heavy traffic route on Highland Avenue.
Currently, the route extends to beyond Endl Boulevard due to an apparent oversight. As approved, the truck route will end at Lakeview Drive.
• Approved a five-year lease agreement with 2 Rivers Bicycle and Outdoor to use the warming shelter at Haumerson’s Pond for equipment rental and concessions services.
The agreement is from Dec. 1, 2018, to Dec. 1, 2023. No rent will be paid, but 2 Rivers intends to donate a portion of its rental fees and concessions to the Friends of Haumerson’s Pond to support ongoing park improvements.
• Authorized the Drift Skippers snowmobile club to mark a trail through the Klement Business Park.
Last year, the county’s system of snowmobile trails never opened due to a lack of snow.