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Milwaukee alderman weighs in on New Berlin housing flap

All Politics Blog

From Milwaukee, Madison and beyond, a daily dose of political news and glimpses behind the scenes

June 08, 2010

By Mike Johnson, Journal Sentinel staff

June 08, 2010 0

Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines has weighed in on New Berlin’s controversial affordable housing project proposed for the Waukesha County suburb’s City Center.

In a statement, Hines reminded New Berlin that part of Milwaukee’s agreement to provide New Berlin with Lake Michigan water required New Berlin to “take a hard look at housing demographics and public transportation alternatives.”

The Milwaukee Common Council has an adopted policy that links water sales to affordable housing and public transit.

That policy has Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima wary of obtaining Lake Michigan water from Milwaukee. Scrima has said he is worried that a water contract with Milwaukee would allow that city to intrude in Waukesha affairs.

Waukesha is seeking a lake supply so that it can halt use of deep wells pumping radium-tainted water out of a sandstone aquifer.

New Berlin residents are trying to kill a developer’s proposal for affordable housing in the City Center, which originally was envisioned as an area of upscale shops, galleries, restaurants and condominiums. New Berlin Plan Commission on Monday night rescinded parking waivers for the proposal and asked the developer to come back with revised plans in July.

Some residents opposed to the affordable housing project, termed workforce apartments by developer MSP Real Estate, have said the development will increase crime and decrease property values in the area.

In his statement, Hines said: “To those New Berliners with anxiety about property assessments decreasing or criminal activity rising, I encourage you to maintain high standards for your neighborhoods and for your city. But I would also ask that you be open to making space for 'non-wealthy' citizens who want to positively contribute to New Berlin’s social fabric and local economy. Just because a person happens to have a little less money, doesn’t mean that person is morally bankrupt.”

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