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Not in my backyard: Residents against recovery center in Lafayette County neighborhood

A new drug and alcohol treatment center geared toward teenage boys gained the recommendation of the Lafayette County Planning Commission Monday night, but not without some impassioned pleas from neighbors who do not want the facility in their neighborhood.

Developer Bryon Fikes wants to create Stonewater Addiction Recovery Center in the Clear Creek community of Lafayette County that would house up to 16 males age 12-17. Fikes, who is a recovering addict himself, says the facility is needed to treat adolescent males.

“I had to go to Texas for treatment,” said Fikes, a self-described alcoholic by the time he was 16, who has been clean for 13 years.

The facility would be similar to the Oxford Treatment Center, which accepts patients age 18 and up. There will be ten full-time staff members and two part-time staff members to monitor patients.

Fikes said the residential property that is being converted has gained approval from the state health department and although it is not required, will receive certification from the state mental health association.

Neighbors concerned

Several residents spoke out against the proposed facility which must next gain approval from the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, including Dr. Rick Carlton who bought his home just over a year ago that would be next to the treatment center. He is concerned, not only with the value of his home possibly going down, but also with future expansion of the facility, access to his home, screening of patients and safety of the community.

“There’s nothing separating my property from where this facility is going to be,” Carlton said. “I’ve got some real concerns.

“We’re not talking about putting in a dance studio,” added Carlton. “We’re not talking about putting in a convenience store for that matter. We’re not talking about putting in a maximum security prison or nuclear power plant, but we’re somewhere in between. There needs to be a much more robust system in place to assure the protection and security of the kids being housed there, as well as the people living next door and in the neighborhood.”

Lindsey Hollowell lives across the street from the proposed center and said she and her husband bought 90 acres and a home two years ago with the plan to begin a family.

“I’m going to table planning to have children because I am concerned about their safety and future,” Hollowell told the commission. “This is my home. This is my future. I realize they are doing good things, but could you do it somewhere else?”

Commissioner Johnny Sowell made a motion to recommend the facility to the supervisors on the condition they do not expand their current facility without coming before the commission again. He and fellow commissioners Ray Garrett and James Thompson voted in favor, while Dick Marchbanks and TJ Ray voted against the proposal.

In other matters:

•A new county fire station received preliminary and final site approval. Fire Station No. 17 will be located on Highway 6 East.

•County building inspector Joel Hollowell requested a fine of $1,400 be levied against a property being developed by Joel Bankhead due to the lack of erosion control, which the commission granted.

•Albritton Highway 7 Storage, a proposed 59-unit development, received approval