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Planned Butte des Morts housing development causes controversy in Oshkosh

Posted at 8:28 PM, Apr 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-13 21:28:29-04

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — Oshkosh Common Council is moving to the next phase of a plan to put an apartment and townhome complex on a piece of land next to Lake Butte des Morts drive at the city's northern end, but a large group of neighbors has said they don't thank the plan is a good fit for the spot.

Kathy Brewer lives near the proposed site for the apartments and explains that she's part of a group of more than 1,000 people who have signed a petition opposing the proposal to build 522 units on the roughly 70-acre parcel.

“I don’t think development is a bad idea," she said, "[but] I think a large development like this one was planned to be is a bad idea for that location.”

She added that buildings of that size in a wetlands area "poses a risk to the environment."

Brewer and her neighbors voiced their concerns at a meeting of the Oshkosh Common Council Tuesday night. While some members expressed concerns with the project, the council ultimately allowed a version of the plan's first phase to move forward, with the modification that buildings originally planned to be four stories high, would now only be three stories.

In remarks before the vote, Mayor Lori Palmeri stressed the importance of building more housing to keep up with increasing demand.

"It is a growing city," she said, "we are attracting young people, we've got some going out and some coming in. We have to make room at the table, and we have to share."

While the common council did scale down the project, Brewer said she still thinks the plan isn't appropriate for the site.

"What we would hope is that plan commission, city manager, planning services manager and city council, would abide by the ordinances of that zoning district…" said Brewer, "...and also consider the wetlands and what the state guidelines are for wetlands."

Oshkosh Director of Community Development Kelly Nieforth stated that the property's zoning does allow for the planned number of apartments, however, and said the Department of Natural Resources has determined the project wouldn't negatively impact wetlands or wildlife.