City leaders heading to Nashville to voice opposition of new home for people with disabilities

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GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL)- A local police chief and mayor are making their way to Nashville Tuesday night to stop plans for a new group home for people with disabilities from moving forward.

To settle a lawsuit, the state of Tennessee is closing Greene Valley Developmental Center by the end of the year.

The facility is the last of its kind in the state and focuses on the care of people with intellectual disabilities.

Now private providers hope to build eight group homes in Greene County to care for its former residents.

Wednesday the state will decide if it will give the first provider hoping to build one of these homes a certificate of need, a must before they can start building.

Sunrise Community of Tennessee is asking to build a 4-person group home for residents transitioning out of Greene Valley.

But some local leaders and neighbors are concerned about the proposed location on Old Shiloh Road in Greeneville

“It’s not a good building site or someone would have probably built on it years ago. It’s in a lower lying area that’s prone to flood, it’s in a curve that makes visibility and safety a real issue,” Greene County Mayor David Crum said.

“We want those homes in Greeneville, but they have to be located in a place that makes sense for everybody,” Greeneville City Administrator Todd Smith said. “It’s going to fundamentally change their neighborhood, it’s a quiet, slow paced neighborhood now and this group home is going to dictate, increase traffic, and it’s going to increase the safety liabilities of the neighborhood.”

Smith said the home will increase traffic on an already dangerous road.

“There’s a steep curve, a very sharp curve right in the area where this group home is supposed to be built, so this curve creates a lot of safety issues, obviously with this group home its going to increase traffic, there’s going to be large vehicles going in and out of this group home and the residents are simply concerned that the road system this curve in particular is not going to be able to handle the increased traffic,” Smith said.

Crum said the state should, “Really look at the placement of the home for the long term care of individuals not just finishing a piece of property and putting a house on it.”

“There are areas of town that are more suitable for these group homes and maybe it’s a higher use residential area, maybe it’s a commercial or business area,” Smith said.

Smith said he feels like their concerns aren’t being heard.

“That’s what the frustrating part about it is for us, we have zoning laws in our ordinance to protect the neighborhoods, to protect the citizens, and these group homes can come in through the state of Tennessee, through the Tennessee code and the state of Tennessee they can pretty much cross all of our local ordinances,” Smith said.

“Homes supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities are legally permitted and encouraged to be located in neighborhoods zoned for single family housing,” Cara Kumari, spokesperson for Tennessee’s Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities said. “They will have the ability to engage with the broader community and their neighbors.”

Kumari said these concerns are nothing new.

“These concerns are very common, what I can tell you is that once the home is built we rarely, if ever, get complaints,” Kumari said.

The state will decide Wednesday if it will approve the first step toward building this home.

Greene Valley is still transitioning residents out of its facility.

The state has asked for an additional six months of funding to keep the facility open through December.

According to Kumari, right now, 68 residents are still at Greene Valley as well as 568 employees.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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