Ministry aims to educate Albany residents on possible addiction rehab facility

Updated: Jan. 29, 2020 at 12:23 AM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Dozens of people showed up to hear a request to rezone an Albany church into a drug rehabilitation facility.

Penfield Addiction Ministries is the company behind the plan, and the group was in attendance at Tuesday’s Albany City Commission meeting.

Penfield representatives said the facility will serve as a transitional treatment program. It would only send people to the facility who have been screened and evaluated.

However, their explanation wasn’t enough for some residents. But Penfield said they just want to be heard.

Raleigh White Baptist Church is the church that would be rezoned for the facility. WALB has reached out to the church but have yet to hear back. It could be donating its property to the addiction recovery ministry.

Penfield Addiction Ministries is the company behind the plan to rezone Raleigh White Baptist...
Penfield Addiction Ministries is the company behind the plan to rezone Raleigh White Baptist Church into a rehab facility.(WALB)

A zoning notice sign in the Winterwood subdivision brought the residents and the company behind the proposal to the Albany commission meeting Monday night.

“I know there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of worry of the unknown,” said Penfield CEO Mike Walker.

Walker said he aims to educate everyone about the program but it wasn’t enough for some.

“We do oppose that because we don’t know what might happen to the area where our families live,” said one woman who lives in the neighborhood.

Commissioners asked about traffic and the impact it would have on the neighborhood.

“What are you doing for our community other than possibly creating an unsafe position?” Ward 6 Commissioner Demetrius Young asked.

Penfield said it is involved in community activities.

A graduate of the program said it’s not every day you come across a place willing to donate their building.

“That could segway so nicely into what Penfield really is, which is not housing criminals that you need to worry about breaking out. It’s loving on people who have a true disability who are seeking help,” said one man.

The facility could have as many as 50 people being housed at a time in a six month to a year program and the church would still worship in the building as well.

Penfield is asking the city to be open to its proposal.

“The idea to jump to a perceived conclusion in your mind that everyone who has a substance abuse problem is a criminal or ex-convict or sexual offender, that your children aren’t safe around is a false narrative,” said one man.

Penfield CEO said one reason they want to come to Albany is that there are more job opportunities for those in the program.

The city commission said it will not make a decision on the matter for another six months.

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