Neighborhood Angry at Gateway Approval; CITY COUNCIL PERMITS FACILITY CONSTRUCTION the Center Will Provide Drug Treatment and Mental Health Services. SUBDIVISON RESIDENTS SAY IT DOESN'T BELONG Many Say the Plan Is a Safety Hazard and Will Hurt Property Values

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Byline: CAROLE HAWKINS

BRUNSWICK - Months ago, some residents objected to Glynn County's plan to build a jail diversion center next to their neighborhood. On Thursday, the County Commission agreed to allow a drug treatment and mental health facility on the 12-acre tract in the Bel-Air subdivision north of Brunswick.

The commissioners, at their regular meeting, voted 5-1 to rezone and sell 12 acres behind Goodbread Drive to Gateway Behavioral Health Services for the new facility. Gateway provides public mental health services.

Chairman Don Hogan was absent. Commissioner Carl Johnson cast the dissenting vote.

About a dozen Bel-Air residents came to voice their opposition to that facility as well.

Commissioners who voted for the Gateway facility said they did so because the community's need is so great.

"Unfortunately whether we like it or dislike it, we do have people in the general public who need this type of facility," said Commissioner Howard Lynn. "We've heard people say, 'I don't care where you build it, just don't put it in my backyard.' But we can't answer that type of situation and we can never answer that."

Last spring, Commissioner Cap Fendig had tried to sell Bel-Air on the diversion center concept, which would have provided intervention and treatment for people who might otherwise end up in jail. But some residents vehemently opposed that plan because they believed lawbreakers, even low-risk ones, did not belong in a residential neighborhood.

Commissioners stripped the plan of its unpopular juvenile and drug offender components, leaving only Gateway's drug treatment and mental health services. Gateway will fence the property along its Bel-Air border, place its driveway on the opposite side and provide 24-hour security.

Still, a handful of residents remained upset with the plan.

Glenn Henderson said adding Gateway's traffic to the neighborhood will create a safety hazard and that the center would make his property values go down.

"During this whole process Commissioner Fendig said if you don't want this facility here, we'll go somewhere else. So, why are we still here?" Henderson said.

Janice Herrington, owner of Kids R Kids, said the treatment facility could hurt her business.

"My main concern is not so much the drug treatment center being close," she said.

There is some drug activity in the area and residents undergoing treatment should not be exposed to it, Herrington said. …

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