ALBANY — A proposed child care home for boys drew opposition from would-be neighbors of the facility in an Albany residential neighborhood.
The request from Oakview Circle LLC was among six zoning applications heard by the Albany City Commission during a busy Tuesday work session.
The hearings were the first live public hearings held since commission meetings went to an online virtual format in March. During the interim, there have been a handful of public hearings dealing with vicious dog and alcohol-application issues.
Oakview has proposed opening the home, which would house boys between the ages of 13 to 18 and two full-time adults at 1719 Parker Ave. The property is a single-family home that would be operated by Patrina Patrick, who has a lease-purchase agreement on the 1,916-square-foot home. Patrick said she operates a similar facility in Columbus.
Representatives with the company said the six young residents would be referred by either the state Department of Juvenile Justice or the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services.
Oakview is seeking approval from the city to operate the personal care home. The facility would closely monitor the adults, and children would be sheltered inside from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., company representatives said. It would provide educational and work-training opportunities.
“I’m excited to bring a (group) house to Albany,” Patrick said. “There is a need. (Residents) deserve to live in a nice community and have a decent life. But I understand where you’re coming from. I get it.”
The Albany-Dougherty Planning Commission staff has recommended approval, and the commission’s board approved that recommendation by a 3-2 vote.
Lenora Hall, who lives close to the proposed facility, said that the many elderly residents in the area have been through a hard time with COVID-19 and that the addition of the child caring operation would have a further negative impact on the neighborhood.
Hall, who identified herself as a retired educator who has worked part-time in a group home, said her “heart goes out to these children,” but that the proposed facility is not a good fit in that area.
“Sadly, this residence is too close for me,” she said. “I, and many residents on Parker, have been living in this neighborhood for 20, for 30, for 40-plus years. Ever since I got news from the Planning Committee about this application, I have been unable to sleep.
“My next-door neighbor that is a widow is another lady that’s been living here for many years. This has just been devastating news to her.”
Hall, as did two other residents of the area who spoke, said they would consider moving if the facility is approved, and they expect they would sell their homes at a reduced value because of the home being located there.
“Senior citizens are constantly being affected by COVID-19,” Hall said. “In my opinion, it’s a very serious issue. The only thing we want as senior citizens right now is to have some peace, quiet and tranquility.
“And we wish the children well. We really wish them well. But children are going to be children.”
Richard Williams, who is raising a family with three children in the neighborhood, said he sees issues in the event staff members are sick or on vacation, leaving the residents without proper supervision.
“I foresee there being staffing issues with this place,” said Williams, a former police officer who now teaches high school. “I am not opposed to young people moving into the neighborhood. I am opposed to young people moving in without supervision.
“I can definitely see these kids being blamed for issues that occur in this neighborhood.”
As a resident for 16 years, McArthur Rouse Jr. said he anticipates the home being located in the neighborhood would cause a decline in property values.
As a minister, Rouse said he works with young people, but the neighborhood is not a good fit for the home.
“I know young boys need help,” he said. “(This) is an elderly community. We take pride in our homes. It brings stress.”
Commissioner Chad Warbington noted the narrow vote for approval that did not involve participation from all members of the Planning Commission.
Three members were absent from the March 6 meeting during which a vote was taken.
At a prior meeting, with residents held outdoors, many were hesitant to show up for the outdoor forum because of concerns about the novel coronavirus, Warbington said.
“When you think about COVID-19, if we had held this hearing in March, this meeting room would have been packed,” he said.
Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the application during their Nov. 24 regular meeting.