Hale Foundation returns with new idea for old convent, but Green Meadows residents still oppose

Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

The Hale Foundation has a new idea for the old convent in South Augusta, but Green Meadows residents do not appear to support it. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's an issue that’s been debated for years: what to do with the old convent in South Augusta's Green Meadows community.

The Hale Foundation's idea to rezone it for a drug rehab center was shot down back in April. Now, the foundation is back again -- this time with a drug rehab center specifically for first responders.

But if signs around the neighborhood mean anything, it seems that many are still against even the new proposal. But it’s all due to rezoning.

The Hale Foundation says a rehab center specifically for first responders would be the first of its kind in the country. They say there is a big need for this.

"A lot of the first responders because of the situations they're exposed to in their jobs and careers, some of these situations are pretty traumatic, and as a result, they're left undealt with and those situations sometimes cause -- a lot of times -- cause problems," Cliff Richards with Hale House said.

But people in Green Meadows don't want to commercialize their quiet corner of South Augusta. Sen. Harold Jones says if this wasn't a drug rehab place, the rezoning issue would likely be more cut and dry.

“It's very unusual that we're kind of in this place where you have almost 100 percent of the neighbors saying no, and all of the elected officials that represent that area is saying they stand with the constituents, yet we're still moving forward,” Jones said. “That's kind of unusual.”

The Hale Foundation has not yet submitted the paperwork required for the rezoning, but they say they are absolutely going to.

Neighbors all seem to like the idea of a first responder rehab, but just not in their neighborhood.

"Not that we have anything against Hale Foundation," neighbors George and Roberta Hatcher said. "We think they're doing a great job. But to put it this close to our neighborhood is something that we just are totally against."

Jones says when a community doesn't want rezoning, it usually doesn't happen.

"I think that once we take the emotion out of it about what it's for, the question is really pretty simple: Does the neighborhood want a change in their particular zoning? They said that they don't want that," Jones said.

Hale House says the facility would be able to hold 30 officers at a time. Treatment would be about a month long, and they would accept first responders from all over the southeast.

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