Neighbors raise concerns over proposed drug rehabilitation center

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, Aug. 5, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's a proposal to bring a world-class drug rehabilitation center to Augusta.

Supporters are saying it will be the Betty Ford of the East Coast, but neighbors who live near the proposed facility aren't impressed.

On Monday, dozens showed up at a public hearing to protest the center.

"Even though it's a rehabilitational center, they're still addicts and they're still in our neighborhood with our children," said neighbor Crystal Seago.

She has lived on Bennock Mill Road for eight years. She lives a few doors down from the site of the proposed drug rehabilitation center.

"I bought my property out there in a community to be away from things like that. To be away from the rehabilitation centers, to be away from the highways," Seago said.

She's not the only one who's unhappy with the plan. After a sign was posted on the property last week, neighbors decided to show up at the planning commission and make their concerns known.

"Right now, it's pretty much a consensus that we don't want it. We still don't want it in the community," said neighbor Richard Weaver.

Neighbor, after neighbor, after neighbor stepped to the podium talking about infrastructure, added traffic and having what they say are addicts in the community.

"There are other places in Augusta that are not in a neighborhood, that are not in a community around children, that can offer the same thing," Seago said.

"Some people will accept it, some people won't, but I think we'll win most of them over," said lawyer Pat Rice, who is representing the center.

Supporters say it's private and will be a facility for professionals struggling to deal with addictions.

"If you hear somebody mention the Betty Ford, you automatically think, 'Hey, that's a great facility.' I think you're gonna be talking about the Bluff Plantation in Augusta like that in 10 years," Rice said.

But neighbors say just because it's upper class doesn't mean it won't cause problems.

"They say they don't commit crimes, but there are no regulations to join this. The only regulation to come in this treatment center is having enough money. Well people who have money do still commit crimes," Seago said.

"It's just not for the doctors and the lawyers," Weaver said. "For anybody that can afford to go, so that's my main concern right now."

Supporters say a lot of the concern came from confusion with the word halfway house. At the meeting, they emphasized this is not a halfway house. They say it's a private facility and will be good for the economy.

They say it will bring 75 jobs and pump more than $25 million into the community.

No action was taken at the meeting. They will now wait six months before they can make any decision.

Those both for and against the facility say they won't stop fighting until then.

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