Council Denies Zoning Change for Sex Offender Home
The City of LaGrange has denied a zoning change request that would have helped provide a home for a group of soon to be displaced sex offenders.
The request was made to rezone 1702 Adamson Street from R-2 (Single/Two Family) to R3 (Higher Density) and discussed during a public hearing at the previous council meeting.
Property owner, Jack Dallas Jr., made the request so that the property could be used to provide shared housing that would in part, serve sex offenders who are unable to find
homes elsewhere. Dallas currently owns another building where he houses the sex offenders, but it is being torn down due to the Hamilton Road expansion. Dallas advised that men who live at the current facility have nowhere to go and are at risk of becoming homeless if he can’t find another place for them. He said, he spoke to the city to approve the new property, which meets sex-offender requirements, but the zoning simply doesn’t allow for multi-family housing.
Under Georgia Law, registered sex offenders have strict requirements on where they are allowed to live. They are not allowed to live within 1,000 feet of a school, church, childcare facility, or basically any area where minors often congregate.
City Planner Leigh Threadgill advised that the planning board recommended denying the request because it would amount to spot zoning. The majority of the area around the parcel is currently zoned R-2. She noted that what Dallas wants to create is essentially a six-plex or a boarding house, neither of which is allowed under R2 zoning.
The issue is the number of people living at the location, not their sex-offender status, noted Threadgill in the previous public hearing.
Alternatively, a group home would be allowed under the R-2 designation and would allow for the men to live on the property, but that would require accreditation from the state, which could take months.
The council was completely divided on the issue, with councilmen Arrington, Mitchell, and Gore voting to deny the zoning change request and councilmen Edmondson, McCamey, and Gaskin in opposition. The tie was broken by Mayor Jim Thornton, who voted to deny the zoning change.
Thornton advised that he understands the need for the housing, but he was worried about how the zoning change could affect the nature of the neighborhood in the future.
Thornton recommended Dallas to seek permits for a group home and instructed city staff to help with the necessary procedures.
The next LaGrange City Council Meeting is scheduled for December 10 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers on Ridley Avenue.
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Tommy Murphy Staff Writer