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Council OKs group home for parolees

Local property developer Liz Tomlin has received the go-ahead from the Bainbridge City Council to open a group home for people recently paroled from prison.

At its Tuesday meeting, the City Council unanimously approved a request from Tomlin to allow a group home on properties located at 811 and 815 Albany Road, also known as Georgia 97 North, in central Bainbridge. The properties are owned by James Cooper of Hanover Road.

Tomlin, known to some for her work caring for foster youth and others in need, owns seven properties in Bainbridge, according to the Tax Assessor’s Office.

Tomlin said the group home will house people who have recently been released from prison, with the goal of helping them transition into the community. The facility, which will house up to seven people, would give the parolees a place to live, while assisting them in finding a job, she said. It will provide them with counseling and help obtaining their general educational development diploma (GED).

Anyone accepted into the group home will only be allowed to stay there for three months, although they can apply for an extension if they are unable to find a job and housing quickly enough, Tomlin said.

According to Zoning Administrator Dustin Dowdy, the home will be monitored by the State of Georgia to meet all Board of Paroles guidelines.

Tomlin said the state would pay for the parolees’ temporary housing.

Tomlin clarified that sex offenders would not be admitted into the group home, citing a 2003 state law that prohibits them from living within 1,000 feet of any place where children gather.

Council denies rezoning for apartments

The council denied, by unanimous vote, a request from Bunivesta Holmes to re-zone his 2.38-acre property on South Miller Avenue, near its intersection with 5th Street, from UR-6 (urban low density residential) to UR-9 (urban residential medium density).

Bunivesta intended to constructed two-story duplex apartments on the property, for a total of 30 units.

Steve Brown, a resident of Church Street, spoke against the request, saying he believed the neighborhood consisted of single-family homes and the apartments would be out of place.

Dowdy had recommended the Planning Commission approve the rezoning, which would not have granted permission to build the apartments in itself. However, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the application be denied.

Other business

In other business, the City Council:

 Approved, by unanimous vote, the rezoning of a 0.09-acre property owned by Oscar Jackson off Jester Street from UR-6 to light industrial to accommodate the continued use of a billboard sign that fronts the U.S. 27/84 bypass. According to Jackson, the sign had been in use there for 40 years. However, the Georgia Department of Transportation had requested the rezoning because the sign was located on residential property.

 Approved, by unanimous vote, resolutions authorizing the execution of supplements to a master lease agreement with the Georgia Municipal Association. City Manager Chris Hobby explained the city government has pre-existing leases that allow it to lease major equipment purchases using financing rates obtained by the GMA. The supplements approved Tuesday will allow the city to finance recent purchases of a garbage truck and police vehicles through the lease agreement.

 Approved, by unanimous vote, an agreement to lease a building at 401 Broughton St. from local businessman Monroe Godwin to house officers who are part of a special Public Safety community-oriented policing team, as detailed in the Wednesday, Jan. 22, issue of The Post-Searchlight.

 Heard a presentation by City Engineer Jim York, who outlined possible solutions to a stormwater overflow problem at Coyle Park. Residents of a Collier Street that is adjacent to the southern side of the park, which is built around a large stormwater drainage pond, had complained about water intruding into their home’s basement, Hobby said. York said it was belief that the stormwater pond was not causing the residents’ occasional flooding problems, except in the event of 100-year high rainfall events that overload the pond’s capacity. The council took no action on the presentation.

Bids and Bills

Bills: $38,193.20 from Decatur County Commissioners of Bainbridge for monthly inmate labor, housing and landfill fees.

Bids: $27,800 from Irwin Mahaffey Construction of Watkinsville, Ga., for improvements to the pool at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center; $3,688 from A.D. Str of Pittsburgh, Pa., for baseball and softball supplies; $2,341.64 from The Sport Group of Jenkintown, Pa., for baseball and softball supplies; $8,317.50 from The Ken Young Company of Cairo for baseball and softball supplies; $5,959 from First Communications of Thomasville, Ga., for portable radios for Public Safety officers.