ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany city commissioners voted not to rezone a domestic abuse shelter so it could become a transitional home for recently incarcerated women.
A motion to deny passed 5-1. Commissioner Demetrius Young was the stand-alone vote.
The rezoning would have allowed Haven for Hope to change its use. It’s been a temporary domestic violence shelter for women since 2006.
If commissioners had voted yes, it would have rezoned the home from a C5 to a C4, making it a community residential dwelling.
At last week’s meeting, more than a dozen residents spoke against the rezoning. There were 185 people who signed a petition against it. Many residents in the neighborhood said they were mostly concerned about safety.
Some did offer support for the rezoning. Kathia Collins, the owner of the facility, said the center would provide a needed service in Albany.
“These women are going to get out and go somewhere. Why not let them go to a place that has a program for them so they can re-enter into society and not back into the same situation?” asked Collins.
Collins said a transitional program would provide help with job training and placement. It would also be geared towards those with a history of domestic violence.
“Neighbors are afraid of the unknown. It’s an unknown territory to them. All they know is women are coming out of prison. But most of us know someone who has been in jail or prison, and most of us know someone who has been abused before,” said Collins.
Resident Stan Logue is one of the residents that opposed the rezoning. He said there were too many unknowns.
“I think that the biggest factor for me is that not enough information has been presented by the city or the planning commission,” said Logue.
If it was rezoned, Haven for Hope would be the only re-entry facility of its kind in Albany, provided plans were followed through.
Commissioner Young said this is a unique situation.
“Other individuals and businesses seeking to do this have always come from outside. We’ve had some come from Columbus, we’ve had some come from Macon or other places other than Albany,” said Young.
Young said Haven for Hope has been in the community without significant issues for about 15 years.
Logue agreed that the facility would meet a need but said there are better locations.
“If you would look objectively at the City of Albany where this facility could be placed, Rawson Circle would be at the bottom of the list,” said Logue.