Cleveland City Council Considers Creating Underprivileged Children's Home

Monday, April 14, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

Cleveland resident Stacy Hayes presented a plan to the Cleveland City Council to create a children's home for underprivileged children under 10. He said the property he wants to use, the old McKenzie home, is around 800 feet outside of city limits, meaning it would not have access to city sewer lines.

To make the building useable for approximately 100 people at any given time, his estimates show that 10,000 feet of septic line would have to be installed without access to the city lines.

He asked the council to create an ordinance that would make an exception for tax exempt organizations to use city utilities. 

Mr. Hayes said, "What we want to do is to acquire that property and to make it into an underprivileged children's home. It would be a place where they could have a safe place to live, to stay, to have meals...God has laid it on our heart to make that place."

He also said he would be more than willing to front the cost of connecting the building to city lines, saying, "We are willing to pay for it because the fact is, you can't put a price on a child's welfare...The money is there, we can get it done, but the initial thing is to get on the city's sewer." 

He said, "We want to do something good for these kids and that's the perfect place to do it. That house is going to sit up there and rot if we don't do something with it."

However, several city councilmen had problems creating an ordinance before Mr. Hayes was further along in the process. Currently, his organization, officially called Haven Hill Children's Home, is not yet cleared to be declared a 501(c)3 by state government. The property has also not yet been purchased. 

Councilman Bill Estes said, "We can't zone things on promises. Would it be wise to make this kind of decision when the owner of the property isn't requesting it?"

Councilman Dale Hughes said, " I think you have a noble idea, but I think the bank might need to be the one to make the request." 

Councilman David Mays suggested that Mr. Hayes go ahead and get an auction on that property.

During both the working session and the voting session, a rezoning issue regarding a residential zone off of 56th Street was discussed. Residents of a nearby subdivision, Avenwood, were concerned that the area would be rezoned to allow rental units. 

Residents were worried about the kind of environment this would create. They also expressed concerns about creating more traffic.

One resident, Andrea Lockerby, said, "I'm just going to speak as a mom. I've lived in this neighborhood for seven years...There are lots and lots of children's activities through there, children riding their bikes." She also said trash around the road was already becoming a problem. 

However, the developer of the subdivision also spoke at the meeting. He assured the residents the property he wanted to build would not be marketed as rentals. Instead, he said he was trying to build two-bedroom homes marketed toward retired "empty-nesters."

Right before the issue of rezoning went to a vote, the developer told the City Council he would rather wait, saying he would like to meet with residents first. He also agreed to send the matter back to the Planning Committee for a second look. 

It was also announced that on May 1, tickets will be sold for an event called Downtown Dine Around. Tickets will be $20 and the event will feature each downtown restaurant. People will be able to walk around and try food from those restaurants while also listening to outdoor jazz music.

During the work session, Melissa England from the Boys and Girls Club presented a report from their Positive Action Program, saying it had been very successful. 

Cleveland resident Bryan Turner was also presented to the council because of his promotion to Property Maintenance Official.

An ordinance to create a special zoning district for East Inman Street was also passed.

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