City denies transition housing request
Council approves permit for personal care home

COVINGTON - The City Council recently denied a special-use permit for a transitional facility and approved a permit for a personal care home.

Following the Covington Planning Commission's recommendation, the council unanimously denied an application by David Hart to operate Jobe House Transitional Center at 5129 Washington St.

"If you read the minutes (from the July 14 Planning Commission meeting), they don't have anything to stand on - nothing," said Councilman John Howard, who made the motion to deny the permit.

"They're unorganized," Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams said.

According to Planning Commission minutes, the center would have operated out of an existing four-room, 1,300-square-foot house at the corner of Washington and Avery streets, across the street from Repairers of the Breach Thrift Store.

The property is zoned NM (Neighborhood Mix), allowing for a mixture of light commercial and residential uses. Transitional or temporary homes are allowed in NM zoning districts with a special-use permit (SUP).

In January, the city was notified there were people living in the building and the housing inspector discovered the property owner was running a boarding house without a permit. There were also reports from the community that residents there had been knocking on doors, begging for money.

A notice to abate was given and Hart, described as the house director, was advised to apply for the SUP.

In April, the city received a complaint that the property was being used as an auto sales business, which is not allowed in the zoning district.

The city gave Hart and property owner Aaron Raatz 30 days to remove the vehicles. As of June 10 the vehicles were not removed and some still remained at the time of the July 14 Planning Commission meeting, according to the minutes.

At that meeting, Hart apologized for the violations, adding he did not initially know that he needed a permit to run the facility. He also admitted there was a similar facility located at 37 Hazel St. in Porterdale that might be in violation of zoning laws there.

He said the Jobe House ministry has been in business for about five years in Conyers and falls under the umbrella of Vehicle Restoration Ministries. Hart is the former manager of Cars for Christ, a similar ministry in Covington.

Hart said residents would be required to have a curfew, enroll in a GED program, learn resume writing and other skills, and in some cases, undergo drug and alcohol rehabilitation. He said referrals would be taken from churches, shelters and nonprofit organizations.

Planning staff recommended a maximum of six residents at one time.

Some planning commissioners said the house was not adequate to support six residents plus a caregiver. A floor plan was not provided, and Hart stated residents would have to sit wherever they could find a place to eat meals.

Two community members said they believed the facility would jeopardize adjacent neighborhoods.

The commission unanimously recommended denial.

In other news, the City Council approved a special-use permit for a personal care home at 4196 Monticello St.

The 2,300-square-foot facility, located at the corner of Pinecrest Drive and Monticello Street, will provide 24-hour care for male and female residents, age 18 and older, including some who are mentally challenged. Residents will be under the supervision of a certified nursing assistant and a nurse.

The property owner is Geneva E. Moore, and her son, Richard Moore, are the applicants. The facility will be run through the Seeds of Hope Foundation, which has been in business for more than 14 years.

Seeds of Hope representative Basley Carlisle said residents will be taken on outings to movies, the bowling alley, the library and church. They will also learn how to care for themselves and be trained to perform simple jobs so they can become part of the work force.

The Planning Commission approved the SUP, with several conditions, including that no more than six residents can live at the facility at one time and that the applicant must reapply for the permit in five years.