New Hope zoning board denies proposed halfway house, owner not giving up

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NEW HOPE, Ala. (WHNT) - The New Hope zoning board denied a rezoning request Tuesday night that would allow a halfway house on Johnson Avenue.

The board cited a lack of building plans and inspections as the reason for the denial, but the proposed rehabilitation center has been a source of contention among New Hope residents.

Many voiced their concerns to the board at Tuesday's meeting at New Hope City Hall. Members of the community argued that the halfway house would decrease their property values and make their neighborhoods unsafe.

"New Hope has a black eye big enough without this right here as a scar," one resident told the board.

"I just don't feel like this town is big enough for something like this," said another.

Property owner Sharon Walker says that New Hope is perfect for a halfway house, though. She contends that it gets those in the rehab program away from Huntsville.

"It's offering new hope to those without hope."

Approved tenants for the house must graduate from a drug and alcohol program and have a full-time job. They will also be required to follow curfews, complete chores and pass random drug tests.

Walker also runs the Rose of Sharon Soup Kitchen and Thrift Store in Huntsville for the homeless and needy.

She wants the program in New Hope to become a point of pride for the community and the board's denial will not slow her down.

"Once I set my mind to do something, I don't care who tells me no or what, I mean, if I know that it's God's will and I'm supposed to do it, I'm going to do it," said Walker.

She plans to gather the necessary paperwork for the zoning board and reapply for the zoning change.

If the halfway house is denied again, Walker says she will have to rely on the legal system.

"I'll have to follow a lawsuit against the city of New Hope, that would be my only option at that point."

According to the Fair Housing Act, local governments are required to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities.

Drug and alcohol addiction are considered disabilities under the federal law.

Once Walker resubmits her request, the zoning board will hold another public meeting.


  • Say What

    I love the wide display of Christian love in this area — not! Jesus would not turn away those people in need — he would move in with them and live as an example of what Christian love is really about!

  • Mark Cumber

    Hypocrites! You know EVERY ONE OF US has an addict in our family!
    “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’…”
    Matthew 25:41-44 I suggest some of you folks stop thumping your Bibles, and open them up and READ them!

  • Judge much?

    In response to the comments above, If someone broke into your house while you were there and put your family in danger, would you voluntarily help them load up the items in your house? That’s also covered in the Bible, but my guess is no, so quit judging!

  • Also

    Let’s not forget this is the same area that has The Care Center and a couple of rehabilitation/counseling areas as well as the Children’s Clinic, so before you go judging our hearts or the amount of Christian love in the area, I suggest you remove the plank from your own eye!

    • Jeremy Smith

      That’s right! New Hope has the biggest heart of any town anywhere.

      Johnson Ave should NEVER be rezoned for that usage.

      Ask yourselves why the owner believes God told her to do this. (God didn’t write IRS codes that provide for Tax variances)

      KUDOS to the planning commission.

      We’ll personally contribute to help New Hope fight this to the end.
      Go bully some other town Sharon Walker.

  • joe

    call me hypocrite or heartless, but this community has enough issues without putting more pressure on its residents. there are enough addicts already hanging around and we don’t need anymore. Mrs walker if you are so hard up on helping these “disabled” folks then let them live in your house and keep the the hell away from New Hope. You will be a good person for it. We don’t need another “disabled” leech to society hanging around our neighborhood. And in response to -say what’s- comments i tell you the same: if you are so hard up to help these people, move them into your house. Just because people do not believe in helping someone that obviously won’t help themselves doesn’t mean they are not christian or they do not show love. 40-60% of addicts that enter rehab have a relapse. That means 40 to 60 out of every 100 people in this rehabilitation center will possibly relapse and walk right back down that same road only in our neighborhood. All Mrs Walker is trying to accomplish is to relocate people. you can urinate in a toilet or you can urinate on a tree but reguardless is still piss. Addiction to alcohol or illicit drugs is no “disease” or “disability”. That is complete BS. Please stop using these terms to get these people more sympathy.

  • Jeremy Smith

    New Hope has enough garbage already.
    Between losers cooking meth everywhere, and transients, we’re over the top.
    The “Halfway flop house” Should be built in Jones Valley… Let’s see what the “Christian” attitude would be there ..

    No more government funded garbage

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