Neighbors seek to have Halfway House removed

John Thompson • Aug 21, 2019 at 9:21 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A group of neighbors have joined together to battle a halfway house, transitional housing operation that was placed in the neighborhood about a year ago.

The neighborhood is on Piedmont Street in the Lovers Lane section of Carter County, just across the Watauga River from the city of Elizabethton. The housing is for clients of Recovery Soldiers Ministries, a faith-based rehabilitation and recovery organization.

The neighbors say they were not informed about the purpose of the housing, or that the residents would include men who had been charged with violent crimes or sex offenses.

Concerns are being voiced by Laura Riddell, a neighbor who addressed the Carter County Planning Commission last month and the Carter County Commission on Monday., Riddell said she has also circulated a petition calling for the removal of the housing on the grounds that it is in zoning and building code violations.

Riddell told county commissioners that she has already taken her concerns to the sheriff’s department, the district attorney general’s office, the planning office and the county mayor.

“And now I am here today … asking … where do I go from here to get relief as a parent, as a Carter County resident, as a homeowner.” She told the commissioners that she and other homeowners would like to know if the commission was going to allow halfway houses and transitional housing to be placed in any area or zone.

“It has been over a year and still nothing has been done or changed,” Riddell said at the conclusion of her talk during the time for residents to address the County Commission.

Riddell said the property consists of two mobile homes on a .6-acre lot. She contends the mobile homes do not meet the setback requirements and their propane tanks are not up to code. The property is zoned A-1 agricultural.

Riddell and some of her neighbors also plan to attend next Tuesday’s meeting of the Carter County Planning Commission.

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