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Gainesville planning board favors group home; City Council has final say
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The Humane Society of Hall County asked the board to annex its property, located in an unincorporated county island, into the city.

Humane Society Director Rick Aiken said moving into the city would be more convenient for the facility.

"There’s a lot of confusion in our area," Aiken said, referencing the Cargill facility just across the street that is part of the city.

The Humane Society is located on West Ridge Road on nearly three acres of a larger county island.

Planning Director Rusty Ligon said state law allows the city to reduce the size of unincorporated islands through annexation.

Aiken said the Humane Society is already using the city’s water services and will be able to take advantage of the better fire insurance ratings by being in the city. "It’s just a benefit," Aiken said. "It’s not going to change anything."

The board voted unanimously to recommend annexation of the property. It will go before the Gainesville City Council for approval.

The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board voted to recommend construction of a second Turning Points group home Tuesday night.

The proposed home would be located at 612 Auburn Ave., at the intersection of Auburn Avenue and Myrtle Street.

The existing Turning Points facility is a group home on Erskine Avenue that houses 24 men recovering for drug and alcohol addiction.

Chris Cooley, manager of Group Home Development LLC, the builder of the Turning Points facility, said the response to the first Turning Points home exceeded expectations.

"The demand is overwhelming. We need more beds," Cooley said.

Cooley said the goal of Turning Points was to create a group home that did not exude an institutional feel.

"We wanted it to look almost like an apartment complex," Cooley said. "We didn’t want it to look like a diversion center or government building."

Cooley said they plan to use the same top-of-the-line building materials that were used at the first home to build the new Turning Points facility, which would be a three-story structure that could accommodate 48 men.

"We want to go into that area and absolutely improve that area," he said.

The board was concerned about having a group home near several residential houses.

But Cooley said none of the men accepted into the program are violent criminals or sex offenders. They are also kept under a strict schedule and are only allowed to leave the home for work or rehabilitation programs.

Board member Joe Diaz said as a lawyer he has witnessed the need for programs such as Turning Points in well-researched locations.

"We need these facilities. They provide a community service," Diaz said.

The board voted unanimously to recommend the facility’s approval. It will go before the Gainesville City Council for final authorization.

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