City To Loosen Group Home Zoning Rules
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 25, 2006
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN--Milwaukee city officials are considering plans to change zoning rules to allow more group homes for people with disabilities to be built without having to get special approval from a zoning board.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday that the current rules require owners of new group homes to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals if they are planned to be built within 2,500 feet, or about one-half mile, from existing licensed community facilities.
But the shift in recent years from institutions to community residential programs has meant that nearly 200 such homes are scattered across the county, and that new facilities often have to go before the board to seek an exemption.
Some advocates also argue that such rules restricting where group homes can be placed violate the rights of people with disabilities under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and federal housing laws.
The city's proposed change would allow group homes to be built without having to pay attention to the 2,500 foot rule -- as long as they only serve people with physical or developmental disabilities, but not people involved in illegal drug use or chemical addiction.
"People thrive and do wonderful in alternative settings, and they should be able to live in the community just like you and I do," said Geri Lyday, the county's adult services administrator.
"City zoning rules for group homes might be relaxed" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)