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Gainesville OKs group home, contract to dredge Longwood Cove
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Turning Point Recovery has the go-ahead to create a residential treatment program in Gainesville.

The Gainesville City Council voted 4-1 to approve a special-use permit for Chris Cooley, a contractor wanting to build a recovery home for 24 men, at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Cooley had proposed to construct a two-story building with four three-bedroom apartments at 1216 Erskin Ave. The property is zoned Residential-II and requires a special-use permit for institutional uses like group homes.

Once finished, the building will serve as the home for 24 men participating in Turning Point Recovery’s residential program. Cooley said the apartment-style building would be ideal because it would be in a residential area and near public transportation.

"We’re trying as much as possible to make these men feel like they’re at home," Cooley said.

Cooley said he and the president of Turning Point, Rick Hamilton, took measures to make sure their plans would be accepted by city planners and residents.

Cooley said he met with Matt Tate, Gainesville’s planning manager, to discuss the best place for a group home in the city.

"We didn’t want to just jump into this and not have a good plan in order," Cooley said.

Still, neighborhood residents asked the City Council to keep Turning Point out of their neighborhood.

Sherry Campbell of Holland Avenue said she and her mother did not want to live next to a house full of 24 men.

"We don’t feel like we could be safe," Campbell said. "I’d like y’all to think about our safety and it being me and my mother, who has dementia, that lives right behind there."

Campbell and Jackie Cooper, a county resident who spoke on behalf of his mother, also cited problems with the flow of traffic on Erskin Avenue.

"To get out from where this structure will be, you’ll have to go completely all the way around through the neighborhood to get in and out there," Cooper said. "So traffic would very much be a concern."

Cooper told City Council members to ask whether or they would like a recovery home next to their homes before making a decision.

After two more residents spoke against the proposal, Councilman Danny Dunagan motioned to approve the permit. Dunagan’s motion was seconded by Councilwoman Ruth Bruner and supported by all members except Bob Hamrick.

Hamrick said apartment-style building was too large for the 0.34-acre tract of land.

Gainesville City Council members also voted unanimously to approve a contract with ACE Grading to dredge Longwood Cove.

After years of planning, dredging will begin on the cove off of Longwood Park early next month, said Paul Krippner, project manager in the construction services division of Gainesville’s Public Utilities’ department.

The project has been expanded from its original scope to dredge 130,000 cubic yards of silt from the cove instead of 50,0000 cubic yards.

It will cost the city $2.3 million to remove the silt, build a retaining wall and install an extension of a concrete trail that runs into the park from downtown Gainesville. Krippner said it would take up to a month and a half to complete the project.

Originally, the city planned to spend $2 million, donated from the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority. The rest of the money will come from "other available project funds," Krippner said.

"I’m going to keep taking out silt until I spend all the money."