Doctors, dentists and other businesses showed up at the meeting, telling board members they weren't happy with the plan.
Board member Steven Kochis offered a familiar refrain under the circumstances.
“Here's my concern,” Kochis said during the meeting. “We have 110 people coming out of a prison and ... into the community. There's a real security concern here.”
When those seeking to have the halfway house turned into a reality tried to ease the concerns of the protesters in the audience, they were greeted with an “outburst of laughter,” according to a newspaper's coverage of the meeting.
Four days ago, the zoning board in Fillmore Township, Mich., went a step further.
After rejecting an existing halfway house's expansion plans due to “safety concerns for children and neighborhood property values,” the local newspaper reported, the board added new language to the township's zoning ordinance intended to limit where similar facilities can be located.
Again, reported comments revealed a similar fear.
“I'm thinking one home is enough in our township,” said Anne Geurink, who lives near the existing halfway house. “I live in their backyard and I have kids. ... I don't think we need another house here.”
For Mericle, pastor of Howard Memorial Baptist Church, such concerns go against his core beliefs.
“Our reason for existence is to minister the presence of God to the community and to the people that need spiritual help,” Mericle said. “If we can help Center Point and that endeavor, the church is serving its mission. We are improving the community that we live in.”
Staff Writer Olivia Ingle