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Dueling petitions on special needs housing vote | News

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Dueling petitions on special needs housing vote


ATLANTA -- Dueling petitions try to influence a Hall County Commission vote Thursday night on a special needs housing complex.

11Alive's Donna Lowry reported earlier this week that some people in Flowery Branch are fighting the construction of a residential housing complex for special needs adults in their community.

Beckel, Inc. is the non-profit interested in the 21-acre site in south Hall County to build 158 housing units for developmentally disabled adults.

Opponents fear the complex will bring down property values, allow Section 8 housing. increase traffic and hurt the infrastructure.

In a petition on the change.org site, opponents write, "Flowery Branch has an ageing [sic] infrastructure and weak sewerage system. This are would be stressed putting so many people in a small area."


"I signed the petition against it, but that's just by hearsay, by what the residents are talking about," said Dean Korst, who lives on the edge of the proposed development… and is one of nearly 700 residents who signed the petition.

He is okay with possibly changing the zoning for the property from agricultural residential to planned residential, but said, he would like to see it used "for regular housing yes, but not for assisted, disability or nursing homes."

But, Beckel, Inc. which operates "Just" People points to the successful track-record at its Roswell complex, which the organization wants to duplicate in south Hall County.

The Roswell complex is called "Just" People Village which has apartments for people with developmental disabilities.

"Many have Down Syndrome, Autism, Asperger's, some of them have learning disabilities, some of them have never been diagnosed, but they were always in special ed in school," said Kelli Salyer, Co-Owner of Beckel, Inc.

Beckel, Inc. also has an online petition in support of the proposal.

"When you have a spécial needs child they're never off your mind," said Nancy Stone, whose daughter, Beth has been a resident at "Just" People Village for 10 years. "Just" People has given my husband and I a life.

"Just" People built the complex nearly a dozen years ago at the request of parents of special needs adults, who helped finance it, to allow their adult children to become, "more independent and confident and comfortable with themselves," said Becky Dowling, Co-Owner of Beckel, Inc.

Beth Stone is one of about 100 residents and one of the 87% who live in the complex who work.

Stone has two jobs, including cleaning at a medical facility.

The Hall County Planning Commission has approved re-zoning of the area.