Commission approves permit for Wellery Farms with strings attached

Published 8:45 am Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Wellery Farms plans finally move a step ahead after the Lafayette County Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the development of a wellness center. However, the permit comes with strings attached.

This vote comes after the commission tabled the issue in November of last year.

Wellery Farms would feature farm-house architecture, 16-unit communal dwellings and 30 private cabins to hold a maximum of 150 patients and a fully fenced and gated community. Wellery does not plan to have 150 outright, only asking for the maximum account in case expansion is needed.

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According to Architect Paige York of York Developments, the massive project assumes an initial investment of $20 million dollars.

The wellness and recovery center would take only voluntary patients aged 18 and older to participate in customized holistic and therapeutic programs and amenities like group therapy and counseling, community gardens and recreational sports courts. 

Taylor residents who attended the Monday evening meeting were still no happier about the idea of Wellery Farms in such close proximity to their homes.

Taylor resident Eugene Simpson appeared at the meeting on behalf of himself and his family who worry about how this development will affect housing, water pressure and taxes. Simpson said residents are possibly at more risk in this project than the developers themselves.

“What’s going to happen to our community?” he said. “How is this going to affect our taxes? You still got people out there who are 70 years old who are not here and don’t know the questions to ask. I need to hear more before it’s a done deal.”

Commissioner Jason Kent addressed concerns about housing saying the Yorks’ $20 million dollar investment would not decrease the value of the surrounding residences.

“The value will go up on the house,” said Kent. “This is not for criminals, it’s a wellness center. [York Developments] projects are very successful and if you say you’re going to spend $20 million, its going to benefit that community.”

Other residents voiced their worry about the safety of their community and of constant elopements.

York said the center is completely voluntary and if residents choose to leave, they will be completely chaperoned and shuttled to their loved ones and not allowed to simply walk off the premises. A security system will also be in place.

“If someone is unhappy and wants to leave, we will always have pre-arrangements and protocols so Aunt Sally or Uncle John knows where they’re going,” said York. “We provided the transportation and we provide the safety for our client to leave the premises.”

As it was requested of the Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center, Wellery will be required to construct a perimeter fence (an eight-foot fence in this instance) prior to receiving any certificate of authenticity, instate a text notification system to alert of possible elopements, an elopement recovery security team, offer drug awareness education to Lafayette County Schools and a scholarship to one county resident.

“There will not be any ‘Hey, we need to put 30 people here and then we will finish our fence later,’” Planning Commissioner Ray Garret said. “The fence is going to be there first.”

The commission stipulated other requirements specific to Wellery. Developers will have to connect all interior roads, provide information on team composition and all equipment used, consider vegetative screening in replacement of standard screening and that York Developments will provide the materials needed to pave County Road 316.

Garrett said the stipulations are an attempt to be fair to Taylor residents, York Developments and other recovery centers in the county.

“We’re [York Developments] to do things based on what people that are them and the problems they’ve caused,” he said. “We have a responsibility to these people to address these things on the front end rather than on the back end.”