Neighbors say they will fight construction of halfway house

J. MICHAEL ROSS michael.ross@empiretribune.com
Ground has been broken for a halfway house located across from this home on CR 180. Its owners and nearby residents say they don't want it there and have started a petition to fight it.

The start of construction of an addiction-recovery halfway house on a one-acre plot in a rural Erath County neighborhood has residents in and around County Road 180 worried and a petition drive has been started against it.

According to the landowner and local attorney, Landon Northcutt, the facility is to be called Hope House Stephenville. There is also a companion facility, Hope House Hamilton, that is owned and operated by Living Hope Outreach. Northcutt said the group is a Christian ministry and operates as a 503c religious non-profit corporation.

“Our home is [to be] approximately 2,000 square feet,” he said. “We plan on starting with three residences and the completion date we are shooting for is February 1, 2015.”

The E-T recently met with nearby homeowners about the project at the home of M.J. and Sandra Lee.

“I was told by the preacher [Pastor Ed Chapman] over there that it was going to be a home for 12 to 15 men,” M.J. said.

“I don’t want it here. I’m not against the drug places; I think we need them,” Sandra said. “But I don’t want it in front of my house. And if this can happen right here to us, it can happen to anybody that lives out in the country.”

Neighbor Freddie Yasinosky added, “It’s only one acre. It’s going to be a pretty crowded-up area with 12 to 15 or so men living there, plus whoever is going to oversee them. That doesn’t leave them much area for recreation or anything else. They’re going to be walking up and down the road in our neighborhood and we won’t even know who they are.”

Northcutt said in a statement that there has also been positive feedback.

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from the community, including individuals and churches from our area,” he said.

Commissioner Joe Brown said he has met with some of the concerned residents and explained that his ability to affect the project is limited by Erath County and state law.

“I understand their concerns,” Brown said. “But people not wanting something doesn’t mean I can go out there and say he can’t do it. I’m not the police. I’m the county commissioner.”

Calls to Living Hope Outreach ministry had not been returned at the time this article is being written.