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Stevens Point council votes against Business 51 referendum resolution

In a 10-1 vote, the city of Stevens Point common council voted against having a referendum in the spring for the Business 51 project, Monday night.
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 1:51 AM CST
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - In a 10-1 vote, the city of Stevens Point common council voted against having a referendum in the spring for the Business 51 project, Monday night.

A resolution for a referendum was on the agenda, proposed by Alderman Jeremy Slowinski. The resolution ultimately failed.

“This is ridiculous. I’m embarrassed. And we sat here back in October and we listened to all these people and how they were so upset and what did you do? You approved it anyway,” Slowinski said.

In September, the council voted to move the project to 30% of the design phase. The plans for the redesign would determine the flow of about three miles from the south city limits to North Point Drive. The meeting brought many business owners out with concerns.

“It’s going to reduce the amount of exposure for the businesses along that corridor which will greatly impact the success of those businesses,” PuroClean Restoration Owner Beth McBride said.

“We don’t want this group of people making a decision that we disagree with and we think that there’s a lot of people out there that support us,” Hardees Owner Jack Leichtfuss said.

Leichtfuss said the Business 51 proposal would eliminate his drive-thru exit. Had the resolution for the referendum passed Monday night, the project’s future would have been up to the people.

“It’s something that should be up to the community it shouldn’t be up to 11 members of the city council. I think it’s something that the community needs to vote on,” McBride said.

Under the preliminary design, the road will become just one lane in each direction with a center turn lane and split into two lanes in each direction on the far ends. Mayor Mike Wiza said no matter what, a re-design is necessary.

“What we’re going to try and do is do things that are in the best interest based on science and evidence and practical use to make that road functional and safer and as efficient as we possibly can,” Wiza said.

The 10 council members in favor of the project said while they understand the community’s concerns, they believe the contractor’s design will offer a safer and efficient route for years to come.

Also during Monday’s meeting, a handful of people upset with the proposal announced they will be running against some of the current alderpersons as a re-buttle.

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