This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
According to New BerlinNow May 4, 2010 (full article available on-line)
”The biggest development in the New Berlin civic center in at least the last five years was narrowly approved by the Plan Commission on Monday, clearing its biggest hurdle.
Use approval was a problem for the plan because city officials had envisioned residential development in the city center to be upscale, attracting people with enough disposable income to support the businesses officials hope to attract to the center.
But 72 of the 172 units will be what is termed workforce housing. The federal government will give tax credits to the developer to provide housing for singles and families who meet Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority income guidelines. The target market are people between the ages of 18 to 25 with incomes of $25,000 - $35,000. The median income in New Berlin is $74,000, said Jacob Klein, director of real estate development for Minneapolis-based developer MSP Real Estate Inc. The target would be a family of three or four people with less than $30,000, he said.
The other 100 units would be senior housing.
The project also needed three waivers, including one to not meet city parking requirements. The plan is 84 spaces short of the required 282 spaces. If proposed street parking is added in, the shortfall goes down to 52 spaces.
The vote in favor was 4-3.
Commission member Lee Sisson said when the Common Council approved the city center in the 1990s, it was understood that the residential would be upscale.
Officials always talked about upscale, higher end, Broge said, "And certainly this does not fit."
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According to Regulatory Barriers Clearing house website of the Housing and Urban Development:
”By restricting redevelopment opportunities, local governments also restrict affordable housing. (Suggested remedy) Allowing existing commercial properties to be redeveloped as workforce housing can increase housing supply.
High property taxes may discourage development of workforce housing. (Suggested remedy) Requirements to build affordable housing coupled with tax abatements are effective incentives.
Zoning codes may not allow for development of workforce housing. (Suggested remedy) Code reforms, such as, rezoning commercial lots, allowing accessory housing in all residential zones, and creating mixed-use zones can spur development of workforce housing.”
Congress and Housing and Urban Development vs The People of New Berlin and the US Constitution
US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
According to www.usconstitution.net, welfare is defined and clarified in modern context as follows:
“welfare n. 1. health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being.
Welfare in today's context also means organized efforts on the part of public or private organizations to benefit the poor, or simply public assistance. This is not the meaning of the word as used in the Constitution.”
We the People:
Such experiments with affordable housing near retail complexes have precedence for failure. The now-demolished upscale Northridge Mall is a good example.
Notice how anonymous federal HUD central planners are advising how to manipulate local zoning; and they are interfering through tax credit incentives to developers. The permission to sidestep the Constitution through these methods was granted by our elected federal legislators, who we have not held accountable for distorting the “general welfare” clause of the Constitution.
There are no existing areas in which permanent overnight parking is allowed on the streets of New Berlin. That change plus “the biggest development in the New Berlin civic center in at least the last five years” demands a vote by the full Common Council in my opinion.
Government by the people requires action by the people. Today is their time to contact their Alderman and Mayor. Tomorrow, they must be more careful who they elect to federal offices.