County tight­ens laws for group homes

Group homes in neigh­bor­hoods limited to 4 people

The Covington News - - LOCAL - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

New­ton County res­i­dents have con­sis­tently spo­ken out against ef­forts to open group or per­sonal care homes in their neigh­bor­hoods, say­ing ex­tra traf­fic and noise will ruin the peace­ful na­ture of their neigh­bor­hoods and open the door for fu­ture un­wanted de­vel­op­ment.

Over the past sev­eral years, county com­mis­sion­ers have gen­er­ally sided with res­i­dents and turned down ap­pli­ca­tions that faced sig­nif­i­cant re- sis­tance. At the May 20 board meet­ing, the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers changed the county’s law to make it even more dif­fi­cult to open a group or per­sonal care home in a New­ton County neigh­bor­hood.

The Board voted 4-0 (Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz was ab­sent) to change the county’s or­di­nance to place fur­ther re­stric­tions on group homes in res­i­den­tial ar­eas, in­clud­ing:

Out­law­ing group homes from hav­ing more than four res­i­dents, in­clud­ing the man­ager

Re­quir­ing the man­ager to ac­tu­ally be a res­i­dent of the home — putting this use in line with other home oc­cu­pa­tion businesses

Group homes al­ready re­quire a con­di­tional use per­mit to lo­cate in res­i­den­tial ar­eas — they’re also al­lowed in some commercial zon­ings — but now they’ll have to meet the ex­tra re­quire­ments.

If a group home op­er­a­tor wants to have more than four people liv­ing in the home and wants the man­ager to be a non-res­i­dent, then the group home must be placed in a commercial set­ting.

Jenny Carter, with the county at­tor­ney’s of­fice, said the change was made be­cause con­cerns have con­sis­tently been raised about the com­pat­i­bil­ity of larger homes in res­i­den­tial ar­eas. Carter rec­om­mended lim­it­ing the num­ber of res­i­dents to four, based in part on study­ing other coun­ties’ or­di­nances and the fact the aver­age house­hold size in New­ton County was 2.93 people (based on U.S. Cen­sus sta­tis­tics from 2008 to 2012).

Dur­ing the pub­lic hear­ing re­quired for an or­di­nance change, a man spoke in op­po­si­tion to the change, say­ing group homes that keep youth of­ten need to have at least six to eight people in or­der to make a profit. He said the state will only pro­vide so much fund­ing per per­son.

In ad­di­tion, the man said forc­ing group homes to move to commercial ar­eas take chil­dren out of res­i­den­tial ar­eas and put them into less ap­pro­pri­ate commercial ar­eas.

Group homes serve mul­ti­ple func­tions, in­clud­ing hous­ing people with phys­i­cal or men­tal dis­abil­i­ties who need help with ba­sic life tasks.

Group home voted down

Dur­ing the zon­ing por­tion of the May 20 meet­ing, be­fore it had voted on the group home or­di­nance change, the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted down a per­sonal care home pro­posal.

Leroy Mack was seek­ing a con­di­tional use per­mit for a per­sonal care home to have up to five res­i­dents along with one res­i­dent man­ager at the 1,900 square-foot home at 110 Roberts Road, off of Brown Bridge Road.

Roberts Road ends in a cul-de-sac and about 30 lots have ac­cess to the road.

Mul­ti­ple Roberts Road’ res­i­dents op­posed the home, say­ing they would like for their quiet road to re­main com­pletely res­i­den­tial, in­clud­ing Scott Miller, who pro­vided a de­tail slide show pre­sen­ta­tion. Miller said the per­sonal care home could lower other res­i­dents’ property value and re­sale abil­ity.

The Board voted 4-0 to deny the re­quest for a con­di­tional use per­mit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.