Albany City Commission denies zoning requests for boy's home, daycare center

Harold Epps speaks on Tuesday against a day care center zoning request in his North Harding Street neighborhood.

ALBANY — Applications for a youth home for boys and a child day care center in a residential neighborhood were among several such requests shot down this week by the Albany City Commission.

Residents of both the 1719 Parker Ave. proposal by Oakview Circle LLC and Gloria Jackson at 2022 N. Harding St. were opposed by residents at a previous work session.

During a regular commission meeting Tuesday, commissioners unanimously voted to deny the special zoning cases.

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Oakview Circle, which also operates a similar facility in Columbus, requested allowing the home, which would have housed up to six boys between the ages of 13 and 17 and two full-time adult workers, within the residential neighborhood. The young men at the facility would have been referred through the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services or Department of Juvenile Justice.

David Hughes, director of the Lighthouse of Columbus, said the facility is needed in the area.

“This is a facility we were asked by state agencies to come to this community,” he told commissioners. “We are looking forward to the impact we will have on the youth and the community.”

Neighborhood resident Richard Williams, who also spoke in opposition at a commission work session last week, appeared again on Tuesday.

“It is my understanding there will be juvenile delinquents as well as (abused) youth who need a place to stay,” he said. “I do not think this will be a good fit for this community.”

Ward IV Commissioner Chad Warbington, in whose district the house is located, moved to deny the motion based on the “adverse effect” it would have on the community.

Commissioner B.J. Fletcher suggested that the company seek out a better location in the city and meet with residents in the neighborhood to get the pulse of their feelings before acquiring the property. Oakview Circle has a lease-to-own agreement on the property.

“When a neighborhood comes out and weighs in, it really makes a difference with us,” Fletcher said. “The way the neighborhood thinks and feels really weighs on me.”

Residents also turned out last week in opposition to the North Harding Street day care center, citing concerns about additional traffic in a residential neighborhood.

Commissioners also denied an on-premises alcohol license application at Club Frozen, 1020 Flint Ave. without comment because it did not meet a requirement that such establishments be on an arterial or collector street.

In other business, commissioners approved, by a 5-2 vote, to proceed with investigating a gunshot detection system. The proposal would come back to the commission for a vote for approval and funding of what could be a $250,000 investment.

The 3-square-mile system would be located in what has been identified as a high-crime area in south Albany.

Commissioners Jon Howard and Demetrius Young voted in opposition.

Howard said his no vote was based on a statement from Albany Police Chief Michael Persley that the systems have not been shown to reduce gun violence.

The systems do have advantages, Persley said, including reducing the response time of law enforcement and ambulances to the scene of a shooting and providing evidence for prosecution.

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