Cassian Town Board adopts opposition resolution as concern over proposed teen recovery center grows
By Eileen Persike
TOWN OF CASSIAN – A proposed adolescent recovery and wellness center in the Town of Cassian north of Tomahawk continues to face opposition.
The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council has purchased 158 acres west of U.S. Hwy. 51 with plans to build a 36-bed residential facility for Native American and non-Native youth who are suffering from substance use disorder.
A meeting was held at the Cassian Town Hall on Monday, July 24 and included dozens of town residents. GLITC CEO Bryan Bainbridge was also there to answer questions about the proposed facility.
One of those in attendance was Christina Turnbull, who lives near the GLITC property.
“The residents that I have spoken with – yes, there is a need for this, and not only in the Native American community, but if you look around, it’s in all communities,” Turnbull said to the Northwoods Star Journal. “Bryan was good to explain giving back to the land, kind of going back to their roots and I feel like that is where his heart is at and I respect that, but I don’t want it at that property. So that’s kind of where my angle is there. Kind of the gist of the whole thing.”
The Cassian Town Board, on Monday, Aug. 14, voted to adopt a resolution opposing the development of the facility, “due to concerns on public health, safety, welfare, quality of life, infrastructure, land values and loss of revenue,” said Cassian Town Chair Patricia Francoeur in an email.
A Facebook group, Stop the Cassian Rehab Center, has been formed to keep communication open, Turnbull said. Her concerns echo those of the town board, including about safety, availability of emergency services and infrastructure.
“There’s more to it than just the roads, but the two roads that connect this property are gravel roads,” Turnbull said. “Who would be responsible for potentially paving those two roads?”
“Cassian has two snowplow drivers, and those two roads are not necessarily first on their list to be plowed. If there was a true emergency at that facility (in the winter), that would be a detriment,” Turnbull added, saying she thinks her taxes would also go up to pay for infrastructure upgrades.
The facility has been in the works for about 20 years, Bainbridge said at a ground blessing ceremony on the property recently. He also said he hoped to break ground this fall, but Oneida County Planning and Zoning Director Karl Jennrich said his office has not received the necessary information from GLITC to begin looking at zoning.
“We met with them and told them of the process and that I needed to know what it will be licensed as,” Jennrich said.
Once he has that information, Jennrich said he can look at how and if the facility can fit into existing zoning codes or whether a conditional use permit application will be necessary.
Once in hand, the Planning and Zoning Department will take any zoning applications from GLITC to the Cassian Town Board, then to the Oneida County Planning and Zoning Committee.
A public hearing would be held before the full board decides the fate of the proposed facility.