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Affordable housing proposal in Janesville has neighbors concerned about its location

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JANESVILLE, Wis. - Neighbors who live near River Valley Park in Janesville are speaking out in opposition to a proposed affordable housing development.

The development, which would place three small homes on a portion of the park's land, is backed by the City of Janesville and nonprofit group Community Action Inc.

Community Action Inc. planning and development director Marc Perry said the project has been in the works for close to two years, and would address the growing need of affordable housing in the area.

"We do have an issue with homelessness in Rock County," he said. "We do have an issue with our low-income families finding stable housing. A lot of people are pointing the finger at us, saying ‘Do something about it.'"

Yet the plan to build at the park has neighbors like Connie Steinke upset.

"I would never be against it if it was across the street," Steinke said. "If they had land across the street. I wouldn’t have a problem with it."

Steinke said her biggest concern is losing a portion of the park she has cherished living next to for decades.

"I like being known as the city of parks," she said. "Not city of parks where we can take some away because we want to."

Steinke has since started a petition to stop the development, gathering 49 signatures.

Perry said the decision to build on the land is due to the city already owning the space. He said the project would only target 1/3 of the space.

"This is all about the betterment and the improvement of the neighborhood and of Rock County as a whole," he said. "Again, we’ve got families living in cars every night. We’ve got to get those families out of cars and into stable housing."

The proposal would still need to pass a planning commission and then be approved by city council. Should that happen, construction could begin on the development in spring 2020.

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