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.