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Federal halfway house hits snag

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A petition to open a federal prison halfway house at Seventh Street and Walton Way has hit a roadblock.

After listening to concerns from residents in the surrounding Laney-Walker area, Augusta planning commissioners opted Monday to postpone their decision and give Western Alternative Correc­tions Inc. a chance to speak further with homeowners upset over having a second transitional facility open next to them.

A similar state center exists across the street from the site, which homeowners said has caused a host of problems because of lack of supervision.

The planning commission first heard about the residential re-entry center in July. The Nebraska-based company is seeking a contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for a center that could house both newly released prisoners and rehabilitation patients. The bureau requires any company putting in such bids to give the public at least six months’ notice before any zoning decision can be made.

Western Alternative Cor­rec­tions chose a dilapidated building at 802 Seventh St. for the project. Magnolia LLC is the land owner, according to property records, with Margaret Copenhaver, wife of Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, listed under the mailing address on the property report.

In September, a second company – Dismas Charities – proposed opening a federal halfway facility in the same neighborhood at a derelict brick warehouse at 602 Taylor St.

In both instances, residents said adding another prisoner re-entry center would exacerbate crime and lower property values.

“To put another one there in the same area, that’s not going to help the situation,” said resident Stella Nunnally, who lives nearby. “It’s not safe.”

Blanchard and Calhoun Pro­per­ty Management Di­rec­tor Davis Beman, who aided Western Alter­native Cor­rec­tions in finding a location, told planning commissioners that 10 to 12 other locations in Richmond County were considered. He said the chosen site’s proximity to the jail and judicial services along with the existing state center made the location ideal.

Planning Commissioner Melvin Ivey said he worried that people in the Laney-Walker neighborhood were not treated fairly when it came to choosing a location.

Commissioners were nearly united in approving the property’s rezoning from light industry to general business, but when it came to agreeing to a special exception that would allow establishment of the center, the committee was divided.

Ivey, Y.N. Myers Jr., Tanya Barnhill, William Wright and Sonny Pittman were in opposition, and Denice Traina abstained. The panel then decided to reconsider the issue after the two parties had a chance to meet again.

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Riverman1
82158
Points
Riverman1 01/07/14 - 08:42 am
2
1
Look At THIS!

"Western Alternative Cor­rec­tions chose a dilapidated building at 802 Seventh St. for the project. Magnolia LLC is the land owner, according to property records, with Margaret Copenhaver, wife of Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, listed under the mailing address on the property report."

So Deke's wife owns dilapidated buildings downtown in the Laney Walker area. Magnolia LLC, very interesting. I wonder if he told the meeting in Chicago giving him an award because of the Laney Walker initiative that he owned rundown property in the area that he was getting the county to throw money into? No wonder Deke talked up the county putting tens of millions into the area. HE OWNS rundown property there!

When THEY publicize the ratio of private investment to public investment in Laney Walker, you better believe they will count this federal half way house as outside money.

GiantsAllDay
9365
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/07/14 - 12:17 pm
2
1
The whole thing is

The whole thing is interesting. The mayor is a slumlord. And it turns out that for-profit corporations not only run prisons/jails but they run half way houses as well.

Riverman1
82158
Points
Riverman1 01/07/14 - 01:10 pm
1
1
Pardon Our Mess

Remember how the Chronicle recently did a "Pardon Our Mess" piece on a building another downtown property owner owned? I propose we have a piece on the "dilapidated building at 802 Seventh St" and note the owners.

harley_52
22941
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harley_52 01/07/14 - 01:11 pm
1
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"The mayor is a slumlord....

....And it turns out that for-profit corporations not only run prisons/jails but they run half way houses as well."

A "slumlord?" Care to explain, or are you happy just with the name calling? Why not call him a "poo poo head?"

As for things being run by "for-profit corporations" versus being run by government.... I'm all for it. The more the better. That is if price, quality, efficiency, and effectiveness are what you're after.

GiantsAllDay
9365
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/07/14 - 05:40 pm
1
1
Actually a poo poo head is an

Actually a poo poo head is an upgrade from slumlord.

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