Proposal for new halfway house building withdrawn after resident - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Proposal for new halfway house building withdrawn after residents speak out

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Elfriede Harrleson has lived in the Crystal Valley area of Columbus off Macon Road for the past 10 years.

On Thursday night, she and several other outraged members had a common goal: stop the building of a halfway home ministry for men at Crystal Valley Baptist Church. 

"I'm very concerned about the children, more than my home, because in the summertime the children are all around," Harrleson said. 

Harrleson and about 50 others stood in opposition of this male transitional center that was aimed at helping prisoners get back on their feet. Within about 15 minutes of heated debate, Neil Richardson, the local minister spearheading the project, withdrew his proposal for the center.

"If our neighbors do not want us to do this and to the point where there is emotions that are arising, and we are going to do what God would have us do… and that's withdraw the proposal and leave in a loving way," Richardson said. 

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and several council members came out to the meeting to hear concerns on both spectrums of the issue. Overall, many say that this halfway home or transition center would be a big problem for the community.

"Why do we need inmates in our neighborhood or close to our neighborhood they need to build this house in pasture somewhere?" asked a resident.

Crystal Valley Baptist Church is less than a mile from Waddell Elementary School and just across the street from a daycare.

Richardson says their goal was to better these men by ministering. Though this fight may be over, he isn't giving up.

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