Commission rescinds halfway house decision amid parent concerns

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

It's a home designed to help criminals get back in society.

But here's the problem: it's on the same block of Broad Street as the old Martha Lester School, a home for after-school activities for Richmond County students.

Tuesday, parents asked the Augusta Commission not to approve the zoning for the home.

The halfway house would be the home of four ex-convicts just released from prison.

But just two doors down is a school for special needs children...and as you might expect, parents and the school board are saying that's too close for comfort.

Safety is the major concern of these parents and the school board...urging city leaders to rethink a decision.

In April, commissioners made a special rezoning exception, allowing this house on the 1600 block of Broad Street to become a re-entry home for former criminals.

And it's not the home itself but its location that concerns parents and the school board. It's located feet from the Martha Lester School, a school teaching special needs children during the day and orchestra students at night.

Harietta Blount lives in the house between the school and the halfway house. She says she won't have a problem with her new neighbors.

"Everybody needs a second chance," she says.

The ex-felons that would be staying at the house would be required to wear an ankle bracelet, and they'd have to be in by dark...but many parents say it's still not enough to guarantee safety.

Commissioner Joe Bowles says he understands the concerns, but in what he calls a "suspect" area, safety should have already been a concern.

"I think if the BOE is willing to put children down there, they should provide some sort of protection for these children," he says.

Commissioner Marion Williams says it's the wrong time to fight it.

"Nobody came down and opposed it when it was there and I asked was any opposition," he says.

The commission ultimately decided to rescind their decision. The matter will now go before the Planning and Zoning Commission.


Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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