At Thursday night’s board of aldermen work session, the board revisited issues surrounding an ordinance that says group homes are not to be within 2,500 feet of each other.
In open forum, Georgia Conlon said her sister, who has a mental disability, is unable to move into a new home with her roommates because the building is too close to another group home.
Conlon’s sister worked through a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities find housing.
The nonprofit was unaware that another group home resides 1,800 feet from the property, which violates city code.
Because one keeps records of where group homes are in the city, City Administrator Bill Charnisky suggested inspecting non-owner homes instead of changing the ordinance.
Some members of the board said inspections could also help protect property owners from damage to the homes caused their tenants.
Conlon said she is disappointed the board does not plan to shorten the distance between group homes.
"There are so many mentally challenged people in the city. I don’t know where they’re supposed to live," Conlon said. "(My sister) deserves to live in a house in a community setting."
The aldermen plan to discuss possible inspections in group homes at the next work session.
Aldermen Gus Elliot, Ward 3, said he plans to request the distance between group homes be reduced.
Elliot said he will lobby for 500 feet if possible and will present graphic overlays at 2,500 feet, 1,000 feet, and 500 feet to drive home his point.
Aldermen May Amend Animal Regulations To Allow Foster Pets
The board also discussed amending the animal regulations ordinance to allow residents to keep up to two foster animals.
Currently, the city code only allows three cats or dogs per household. With the proposed amendment, residents would be able to keep two foster animals in addition to the three pets.
The amendment would not overrule resident subdivision laws. City Health and Environmental Services Manager David Kuppler said the amendment would help those who already have pets.
"If they have a couple pets, they really can't foster many animals without being in violation of the ordinance," Kuppler said. "I would suspect we have a lot of fostering that occurs now in the city that we're just not aware of because we don't have any complaints or problems. "
Ward 4 Alderman Don Aytes said he thinks there should be a limit on how long residents are allowed to keep the foster animals.
The board voted to put the issue on the next board meeting’s agenda for adoption.
Correction: This story has been revised. An earlier version suggested Alderman Tommy Roberts and Alderman Gus Elliot were going to request board action reduce the distance between group homes to 1,000 feet. Roberts says he did not say he was going to do this. Elliot and Roberts also did not say that zoning notices require at least a 1,000-foot distance. The 800 feet between the two group homes was corrected to 1,800 feet.