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Hall commissioners approve special needs development | News

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Hall commissioners approve special needs development

GAINESVILLE, GA (WXIA) -- The Hall County Commission voted Thursday evening to approve a plan to build a special needs housing complex in the southern portion of the county. 

The vote passed four votes to one. 

11Alive's Jeremy Campbell says that 2nd District commissioner Billy Powell noted that the crowd attending the meeting was one of the largest ever to attend a meeting. He asked for those supporting, then those opposing the housing complex to stand, in order to gauge the room. The crowd appeared to have been evenly mixed in its support.

Commissioner Kathy Cooper made a motion to deny, but no other commissioner seconded the motion -- until the commission chair placed a second in order to engage discussion of the matter. However, the motion to deny did not survive the commission's vote. 

The plan has divided the county, with petitions both for and against the project, each getting hundreds of signatures.

As for what makes the project so controversial, the answer comes down to who will be living in the proposed housing complex.

Now that the project has been approved, a developer will build the complex with 158 housing units for developmentally disabled adults in southern Hall County. The project is patterned after a similar complex already built in Roswell that houses people with Down’s syndrome, Autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

So why have 700 people signed a petition against the proposed complex? Opponents fear the complex will bring down property values, allow Section 8 housing to be constructed, increase traffic and hurt the community’s infrastructure.

At Thursday's meeting the most common reason cited by opponents was the location of the property.  However the board of commissioner's voted four to one, allowing the facility.

“There was something about this piece of land that says this is where we belong," said Just People's founder, Becky Downing.

A sense of belonging. is what Downing hopes her residents will get and give in Hall County.

“They will be surprised at how much we bring to the community," she said.