The Covington News - - Front page -

homes were a busi­ness that in­creased crime and de­creased home val­ues. Hosley con­tended that a group home is sim­ply that, a home. She said stud­ies showed that crime rates in group homes were much lower than over­all crime rates and that prop­erty val­ues did not de­crease.

Hosley pre­sented 15 let­ters of sup­port to the BOC, most of them per­sonal ref­er­ences from around the state and county. Two res­i­dents from the neigh­bor­hood wrote let­ters of sup­port, in­clud­ing Amelita Sims, who lives di­rectly across from the pro­posed group home. Sims said she had no prob­lems rais­ing her two chil­dren across home a group home.

“There is a vi­sion around Cov­ing­ton that keep strik­ing me, over 900 cases you guys have had shown by the demon­stra­tion of pin­wheels. Ev­ery time I see this, I can’t help but won­der what happed to th­ese chil­dren, be­cause I can’t help but feel a lot of times th­ese chil­dren are placed into th­ese po­si­tions un­der no duress of their own, the par­ents have is­sues,” said Sims. “I think it could ac­tu­ally be a learn­ing op­por­tu­nity for my chil­dren. They’ll learn what a bless­ing they have with a strong in­ner fam­ily, but they also could be a light to the oth­ers … I ques­tioned her (Hosley) very deeply and I feel she wants to run a good, struc­tured group home.”

How­ever, the op­po­si­tion was also strongly rep­re­sented, led by the pres­i­dent of the Creekview Heights Home Own­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Lisa Faulkner. She pre­sented more than 40 pe­ti­tion sig­na­tures op­pos­ing the group home and around 15 res­i­dents came to Tues­day’s meet­ing.

Faulkner said res­i­dents were con­cerned by Hosley’s lack of group home ex­pe­ri­ence and the fact she did not live in Cov­ing­ton. How­ever, the most im­por­tant rea­son cited was that a group home would vi­o­late the neigh­bor­hood’s covenant, which spec­i­fies that lots can only be used for res­i­den­tial pur­poses, no busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties.

Group homes used to be much more preva­lent in New­ton County, but the BOC pre­vi­ously re­stricted them in 2006. Be­fore the zon­ing reg­u­la­tions were changed, group homes could be started in any res­i­den­tial area. Af­ter the change, cer­tain res­i­den­tial ar­eas re­quired a busi­ness owner to ap­ply for a con­di­tional use per­mit, said Plan­ning Di­rec­tor Mar­ian Eisen­berg.

“This change di­min­ished the num­ber of applications dra­mat­i­cally … Go­ing through the pub­lic hear­ing process is just too much trou­ble for most folks to go through, be­cause op­po­si­tion is in­evitable, said Eisen­berg, not­ing that New­ton County was no longer the eas­i­est county to start up a group home.

She said the move­ment to re­strict the place­ment of group homes was orig­i­nally started by the sher­iff’s of­fice. Ac­cord­ing to prior ar­ti­cles in The Cov­ing­ton News, sev­eral lo­cal group homes were the sub­ject of nu­mer­ous phone calls to the sher­iff’s of­fice.

Ac­cord­ing to a July 2007 ar­ti­cle, New­ton County had 27 group homes at the time, ac­cord­ing to the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Hu­man Re­sources Of­fice of Reg­u­la­tory Ser­vices. A cur­rent search through the DHR Web site yields 11 such in­sti­tu­tions in the county, 10 of which are op­er­ated by Project Ad­ven­ture. Cov­ing­ton Zon­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tor Debbie Dial said there were four group homes in the city lim­its.

District 3 Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz made the mo­tion to deny the CUP; the neigh­bor­hood is in her district. District 4 Com­mis­sioner J.C. Hen­der­son said there are not enough homes for kids in the county.

“If we don’t have a place for kids to go, where do we put them, where do they go?” he asked. “Un­less we as a board are go­ing to look up or find funds, if we don’t al­low th­ese homes in com­mu­ni­ties, they’re not go­ing to have a place.”

• In other BOC news, the county pur­chased a to­tal or­ganic com­pound an­a­lyzer for the Cor­nish Creek Wa­ter Treat­ment Fa­cil­ity for the low bid of $24,689. The de­vice will more closely mea­sure or­ganic ma­te­rial and add chem­i­cals to re­move or­ganic ma­te­rial if the lev­els are too high.

On Jan. 20, New­ton County Wa­ter Re­sources was given a vi­o­la­tion by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Divi­sion be­cause the county’s wa­ter con­tained slightly too much haloacetic acid. This acid can be harm­ful if lev­els are high for a sus­tained pe­riod of time. Haloacetic acid is formed when chlo­rine com­bines with or­ganic ma­te­ri­als.

• The county also ap­proved a $3.57 mil­lion bid from Glover Construction Com­pany for the construction of the third solid waste cell at the county land­fill. The money will be paid out of the solid waste fund and the county may also get a loan from the Ge­or­gia En­vi­ron­men­tal Fa­cil­i­ties Au­thor­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to the county’s solid waste plan, the third cell will be able to hold 1,552,918 cu­bic yards of waste. There was 258,000 cu­bic yards of re­main­ing ca­pac­ity in the cur­rent solid waste area as of April 1, 2008. The land­fill takes in an av­er­age of 250 tons of solid waste per day. The land­fill site is a 217-acre prop­erty, of which 88.1 acres are cur­rently used. Af­ter construction the land­fill is ex­pected to have suf­fi­cient ca­pac­ity for the next decade.

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