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Hearing planned for potential group home

The LaGrange City Council will host a public hearing on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 11, regarding a special use permit for a potential group treatment facility on Adamson Street.

According to city documents, Jack Dallas of LaGrange is applying for the permit for a structure at 1702 Adamson Street intending to help recently released inmates transition back into society.

Documents say the owner of the site has recently applied for rezoning for the property to be used as a multi-family structure as a boarding house of apartments but was denied by the council. The council did suggest that Dallas work with the city staff to pursue a special use permit for a group treatment facility.

However, Leigh Threadgill, strategic initiatives manager with the city, said during the council’s Tuesday work session that the LaGrange Board of Planning and Zoning Appeals had recommended denial of the special use permit. The city council has yet to decide on the special use permit, and the result of the zoning board is just a recommendation.

“After talking through the application, the concern was raised that it really isn’t a group treatment facility,” she said. “It’s not really established that way.”

Staff reports say the facility would offer a different option for recently released incarcerated men who experienced difficulty living together and receiving supportive services. The application said the facility would provide residential services, living arrangements, life skills and community support to help the individuals mold back into everyday life.

City staff also reported the property would be used to providing housing for six registered sex offenders.

Threadgill said there didn’t seem to be organizational support to offer potential tenants, which led to the recommended denial.

“The ordinance is fairly specific about what the treatment facility should do,” she said.

Threadgill said the structure used to be a duplex with the former owner, and it could be again. She said if it’s a duplex, the owner can rent it to whomever he wants because the city doesn’t get involved in such matters. 

However, she said the owner couldn’t create a boarding house or a six-plex.

“I don’t think the group treatment facility is an appropriate workaround for that,” Threadgill said. “Sort of, we’re just trying to you put lipstick on the pig call it something different.”

The building is 974 square feet and was purchased by the applicant to relocate six residents, according to city documents.

Threadgill said the building would also require thousands of dollars to satisfy the fire code if it were a boarding house. However, if it were a duplex, those costs would be reduced significantly.

Councilman Nathan Gaskin encouraged the council to drive by the property and into the adjacent neighbor, adding that something needs to be done in the area.

“Any development is a good development. It is really in bad shape,” he said.