On Monday’s planning and zoning meeting, residents say the future of their neighborhood could be in jeopardy. But an Augusta leader also came to the podium, to give his heartfelt reasons for supporting the facility.
“I never wanted to be this type of person,” said Commissioner Bill Fennony. “I have seen the impact that alcohol and drugs have had on other people, and I promised myself it would never happen to me, but it did.”
Augusta Commissioner Fennoy gave his testimony to the County Planning and Zoning Commission.
He was there to support a proposal to open the second Hale House Foundation rehabilitation facility in South Augusta. But people who live near the proposed location say they don’t want new neighbors.
“That is better suited to a different zoned area than a residential neighborhood of primarily retired individuals,” said Deborah Bunch.
Bunch says she’s worried about student safety and the extra traffic the facility could bring.
“If someone decided to walk off that facility, they would be right in the driveway of that high school and college,” says Bunch.
But Commissioner Fennoy says the new location would do a lot of good.
“So I’m asking you to give us an opportunity to continue to save the lives of people,” explained Fennoy.
“I am well aware, but I don’t want to live with it in my backyard,” says a Green Meadow Estate resident, Tracie Ann Roe.
Bunch told NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson, she is worried about the property value decreasing if the commissioners approve the proposal.
“What can we do, asked Bunch. “We would be powerless.”
Instead, Bunch would like to see the vacant property used for something else for the community.
“A church group, or a retreat that sort of thing,” said Bunch. A non-commerical, a non-drug related facility.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission denied to recommend the proposal of the second Hale House Foundation Center.
The commissioners will meet on March 19th with a final decision.
Photojournalist: Antony Sherrod