This residential property at 910 N. Davis St. in Albany is being proposed as a personal care home.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Not so fast, all you would-be personal care home residents and proprietors.
On the same day that Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta was quoted in an Albany Herald story saying, "I don't see a reason now to delay this issue further" in reference to passage of an ordinance drawn up to regulate community residences in city neighborhoods, the Ward IV representative called for a motion to extend a moratorium on such residences for another 120 days.
Marietta's motion passed during Tuesday night's commission meeting without opposition, leaving businesses like Bailey Healthcare -- which has contracted to move three state residents with developmental disabilities into a home at 910 N. Davis St. in the Rawson Circle neighborhood -- in limbo for another four months.
Marietta said Wednesday new information brought up at Tuesday's meeting led to the change of heart.
"There were new things brought up last night, things that were unbeknownst to the commission," he said. "I think Ms. Mitchell made some effective arguments, and I remember turning to (city attorney) Nathan Davis and saying, 'We should allow more time for the public to deal with these changes.'"
The "Ms. Mitchell" Marietta referred to, Rawson Circle resident Anne Mitchell, has been a vocal part of an ongoing argument against allowing Bailey Healthcare to locate a personal care home in the Rawson Circle neighborhood, and Tuesday she encouraged the commission to extend the moratorium so that city staff -- in particular Downtown Manager Aaron Blair -- could look into the possibility of creating a zoning overlay district that would protect the integrity of the neighborhood.
When city Planning Director Paul Forgey pointed out that the research and paperwork involved in such an effort would extend for "at least six months" and would offer only more restrictions and not eliminate the possibility of locating such residences in even historic neighborhoods, Mitchell insisted that the commission authorize Blair to work with Forgey to come up with such a plan.
City Manager James Taylor answered her demand.
"Aaron Blair and Mr. Forgey work for me," he said. "I'll be the one who authorizes what they'll do."
When Commissioner Christopher Pike noted that efforts to create a zoning overlay district in the Rawson Circle neighborhood would not impact the personal care home ordinance, Mitchell insisted the two were intertwined.
"Aaron Blair seems to be the only one in this town who has vision," she said. "He's trying to revitalize a city that is on the verge of nothingness."
Forgey insisted Wednesday that he would not have brought the care home ordinance to the City Commission if he hadn't felt it was sufficient to meet state and federal requirements. He noted that he could have the research needed to determine what additional restrictions might be placed on personal care facilities in historic districts by the end of the week.
"Frankly, I don't know what additional work needs to be done (on the ordinance) that would require another 120 days," he said. "My impression is that we'll hold another public hearing to see what input we get from the community. And we'll look at tweaking the ordinance, perhaps add a section that spells out additional regulations that may be required in certain specific districts, such as a flood plain or a historic district."
Randy Bailey, who with his wife Lauren owns Bailey Healthcare, said Wednesday he's at a loss as to what implementation of another 120-day moratorium will do, other than to delay his plans for the North Davis Street home.
"I really don't know what was accomplished, other than a delay on moving forward with this facility," he said Wednesday. "We've already made a significant financial investment into this property, so we're tied to it. We're going to have a (care home) there.
"What's so disheartening is that finding the residents that were a fit with our facility was a three- to four-month process. Now we may potentially have to start that process over again."
Bailey said he was floored by the city's decision.
"Yes, we've lost quite a bit of money in this process already, but that's not my major concern," he said. "What bothers me is that there are three people out there just like you and me with the same God-given right to live in a place that they choose, and they're being denied that right.
"How do you go to people like that, people whose hardships are not due to anything they did, and tell them they're not wanted in our community?"