The Town of Yadkinville is at odds over the placement of a veteran’s home at 633 W. Main St. in town. Sharon Lewis, owner and operator of Total Companion Care in Winston-Salem, says that she saw a need for a facility like this and decided on housing in Yadkinville after researching the possibilities.
“There isn’t a veteran’s housing here in Yadkinville and that was one reason why I chose this location,” Lewis said. “There is a need in Yadkinville and the closest veteran’s housing is the VA clinic in Salisbury.”
The facility would be a home for disabled, homeless veterans that are referred to the home by the VA clinic. Veterans that would reside in the home could have a handicap, mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction problems.
The facility would provide a home for these veterans while they continue to receive treatment through the VA clinic. There is also the possibility of joint efforts to help the veterans obtain their GED, job training or other job certification through partnerships with the Yadkin Family YMCA and Surry Community College in the future.
Lewis set out to make the home a reality but learned that the location she had chosen was going to pose a problem because it was not zoned to accommodate the facility.
“The property is currently in the Residential-Office (R-O) zoning district, which is intended for offices or apartments as a buffer between business and residential areas,” said Christopher Ong, Yadkinville Town Manager. “The request was to rezone the property to the Highway Business (B-2) zoning district, which is intended for retail and service facilities located along major roadways.”
Lewis put in a request with the planning board at the beginning of the year to have the area rezoned for the facility. After some consideration the planning board decided not to approve the rezoning.
“The Planning Board looks at the potential impact of changing an existing zoning district in relation to surrounding zoning districts,” Ong said. “Each zoning district has a number of permitted and conditional land uses. Therefore, the Planning Board is not looking at the impact of one particular use as much as it is the impact of changing the zoning district with one set of uses to another zoning district with a different set of allowable uses.
“Zoning districts are typically established to maintain separation between potentially incompatible land uses. In this particular case, the Planning Board did not recommend approval because of the feeling that there was a potential spot zoning issue,” Ong continued. “Spot zoning occurs when a parcel is rezoned to a district that is not near similarly-zoned districts.”
Lewis decided to appeal to the town commissioners in hopes that they might overturn the planning board’s decision. A public hearing was held on Oct. 1 to allow community members and Lewis to present their sides before the commissioners voted.
Several community members, many of whom live near the proposed address for the facility, were on hand to voice their concerns and ask the commissioners to vote against the rezoning. Lewis and the property owner for the facility both spoke to the board to explain their side. The board ultimately voted unanimously against the rezoning of the property.
“I’m 150 percent for the veterans. I had an uncle who was killed in the USS Graylyn in the Sea of Japan in World War II,” said Gene Brannon, a town commissioner. “I worked in veteran’s hospitals in New York, South Carolina and Alabama. I have seen up close and firsthand what our veterans go through and how they have been wounded and how they’ve been abused.
“That being said, there are other places in this town that would better suit the situations she’ll be dealing with rather than where it is,” Brannon continued. “We have healthcare facilities on Harrison Avenue and I’m sure she could have found a house down there. We would rather see it down there than where she wants to put it.”
Brannon said that he could not speak for the other commissioners but he feels that there was not enough information provided to the board about the policies and procedures that will be implemented at the facility and that’s what led to his vote.
Many of the concerns expressed by board members and community members were regarding the fear of the veterans with mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction being allowed to walk the streets of Yadkinville, posing a threat to themselves or the residents around them.
“We are not like a shelter or a homeless place where they are not being monitored and they can feel free to walk out where they want to,” Lewis said. “If they want to leave the facility then they will have to be signed out with a family member so they can’t just feel free to roam the streets. If they are not following the rules and regulations then we’ll have to turn them back over to the VA and they’ll place them wherever they feel appropriate.”
Lewis said that any veterans that will stay in the home would have to be referred by the VA clinic to avoid the facility housing homeless citizens only claiming to be veterans. Lewis said that the veterans the home will serve have already gone through extensive treatment with the VA clinic and anyone going through a rehab treatment or 12-step program would not qualify to stay in the home.
Brannon said that he feels the ultimate problem for the facility is a lack of planning and a lack of presentation.
“We were just not given all of the information,” Brannon said. “The night of the public hearing is the first time me or any of the other board members has met Ms. Lewis. I don’t think she put up a very good presentation to convince us of what she needed. That’s spot zoning and to do what she wanted to do we would have had to rezone just that property. I don’t feel like we had enough information that would reflect on the future of that area.”
Lewis said that she still plans to continue with the future of the veteran’s home. She says that she plans to make some changes to policies in order to make the current zoning work for the property.
“The only thing we’ll be doing differently will be that some of the policies and procedures will be changed basically,” Lewis said. “The facility will still be for homeless veterans. There are just some things we won’t be allowed to do unless we have it rezoned.”
Ong says that he will have to see an acceptable proposal that meets the requirement of the current zoning before the Planning Board will approve the home for that use.
“Any proposal would have to meet one of the allowable permitted or conditional uses in the R-O District as stated in the Town Zoning Ordinance,” Ong said.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.