LaGRANGE — The Troup County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday denied a special-use permit to two Fort Mitchell, Alabama, residents who sought to convert their local rental property to a personal care facility for veterans.
Originally billed as a homeless veterans shelter, Beverly and Calvin Smith applied for a permit to use their three-bedroom house at 245 Teaver Road as a full-time care facility under a U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Community Residential Care Program.
County staff recommended commissioners deny the permit, citing concerns about the screening process for veterans. Under the Community Residential Care Program, veterans with medical or psychosocial health conditions who are unable to live independently are placed in residential settings. Jay Anderson, the county’s chief building and zoning agent, noted that under the programs guidelines, a veteran who is simply down on his or her luck and homeless would not qualify for community residential care.
There were also concerns from community members, 75 of whom signed a petition against the facility. During a public hearing, Brenda Bagley of Oak Drive, which is across from 245 Teaver Road, said she was “not against veterans or the homeless,” but she and the other area residents she represented did not think the location was appropriate for the shelter. She noted its close proximity to a playground at Teaver Road Baptist Church, just two doors down.
Teaver Road Baptist Church’s pastor, the Rev. Ben Turner, also spoke against the shelter, and said he and his congregation would be willing to partner with a veterans care facility — but he thought the location would be better in another location. Turner, like the county staff, had concerns about the screening process for veterans. He was concerned about the potential of people with mental illnesses being housed so closely to the children’s playground, which is open to the public and used by the community, he said.
Keith Littlefield of North Greenwood Street said he is a veteran and was also against the facility, citing the size of the house. He said it would be inadequate for housing veterans and the staff that would be required to oversee them.
No one spoke in favor of the facility, although the Smiths attended the public hearing.
Bagley, who presented the petition, challenged Commissioner Tripp Foster of District 3 to seek a more viable solution to housing veterans in need of assistance. She suggested using the former Georgia State Patrol barracks on Hamilton Road across from the Troup County Jail, which the county now owns, according to County Manager Tod Tentler.
Foster said he would “accept the challenge,” and work with county staff to investigate the feasibility of using the GSP barracks as some form of shelter or indigent care home.
Tyler H. Jones is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.