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Oneida County Board of Adjustment extends review time for GLITC's appeal of proposed center permit

Patty Francoeur speaks to the Board of Adjustment
Hannah Davis-Reid
Patty Francoeur speaks to the Board of Adjustment

The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council’s plans to build an adolescent recovery and wellness center in Cassian were derailed when the Oneida County Planning and Zoning Committee rejected their permit after opposition from the local town government.

It’s appealing the decision before the Board of Adjustment and had its first meeting last week, which WXPR’s Hannah Davis-Reid attended.

In Cassian, some residents and the local government have opposed plans for an adolescent recovery and wellness center by the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council or GLITC, a 501c3 nonprofit organization made up of tribes in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The towns of Cassianand Little Rice both passed resolutions against the proposed center.

In April, the Oneida County Planning and Zoning Committee voted to reject the permit for the center.

Last week, GLITC appealed that decision before the Board of Adjustment, who ultimately decided they needed more time and information before they could make their decision.

The board will meet on July 25th to discuss the conditions of GLITC’s permit application and make their official decision.

They asked GLITC representatives about the center’s potential impact on neighboring property values, public safety, funding, and staffing plans, as well as why the center wasn’t built on tribal land.

The lawyer for the town of Cassian told the board about a resident who tried to sell his property.

Some potential buyers walked away after learning about the proposed center and the lawyer argued that this could have impacted his profit margins.

“He indicated “he no longer felt that peace, comfort that our wonderful neighborhood once provided, wouldn't be anymore. We felt that we no longer felt comfortable”. So I think that goes to the enjoyment element regardless of what he sold for,” said the lawyer.

GLITC’s lawyers noted that the resident was still able to sell and make a profit.

Committee members asked if GLITC would transfer the property into a sovereign trust later, depriving the town of tax benefits.

Representatives from the proposed center reiterated that they did not plan to do so, and that in fact, the process would be incredibly arduous and take upwards of ten years.

Patty Francoeur, Town Chair of Cassian, said that the town wants all tribes affiliated with GLITC to sign a waiver stating that they will not pursue a sovereign trust for the property, which GLITC won’t agree to.

“Although they kept saying ‘transparency’, I don't feel that that was, we didn't feel that that's what we were getting. Too many questions,” she said.

Bryan Bainbridge is the CEO of GLITC.

“At least in this meeting, it wasn't so glaring of maybe a thought or a bias towards the project or proposed project. And I think the facts are showing,” he said.

He said that ultimately, they want to help grow and heal the community by providing more resources while maintaining the values of the Northwoods.

He argued that the center would bring value to the area with important upgrades to electricity, gas, and internet connectivity.

“We're wanting to, to help grow that community, then grow the county, and in a good way, not commercialize it and take away all the values that we have the Northwoods,” said Bainbridge.

He said that ultimately, the conversation needs to center on the families that are suffering.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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