6/22/2018 1:28:00 PM Cass County Board: Resident questions group homes
MONICA LUNDQUIST Cass County Correspondent
PILLAGER-Pat Wintheiser, a Sylvan Township resident, brought his concerns about two group homes in his neighborhood to the Cass County Board during the public comment portion of the meeting Tuesday, June 19.
He said he moved to the area eight years ago. He questioned whether the group homes are not for disabled residents, but instead some kind of halfway houses for people who have committed crimes.
Wintheiser said he frequently sees able-bodied people driving nice cars to and from the homes and the people seem to change every few months. He asked whether the county zoning regulations could be used to prevent the homes from operating in his residential area.
Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk, who represents that area, said he checked on the issue a couple years ago at Wintheiser's request and found the houses do meet the county's zoning codes for allowable uses.
When asked by the board, Wintheiser said people at the houses have not caused him or his neighbors any problem to this point. Gaalswyk related he has a disabled brother who lived in a state hospital before those closed and now is much happier living in a group home, where he is in a more home-like setting and getting more personalized care.
Sylvan Town Supervisor Greg Booth said he believes the cars Wintheiser sees are the employees' vehicles.
Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Michelle Piprude confirmed by telephone Wednesday the two homes in Wintheiser's neighborhood are state-licensed group homes for four disabled people each.
The residents do have disabilities, she said, either due to developmental disability or due to mental health issues. It is their permanent home. The cars likely are those belonging to employees who staff the houses 24 hours a day to provide on-site care to the residents at all times to meet their needs. The state determines what those needs are, she said.
The state, not the county, issues the license to operate and oversees each home's operations, Piprude said.
Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.