KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Angelic Ministries is searching for an alternate location for its proposed recovery home for men overcoming addiction, after opposition from a neighborhood in Halls. The nonprofit has announced it will sell the former Salem Baptist Church building that was most recently used by Halls Christian Church, but which is now vacant, near Hill Road and Fort Sumter Road.
Neighbor Susan Mills was one of those with safety concerns.
"My grandchildren play directly across the street from there. We felt that it was not an appropriate place for it. This is a neighborhood."
Mills also said she also shared concerns that a group home should be in a city near public transportation and hospitals instead of in a more rural area.
Angelic Ministries Director Tony Earl told Local 8 News the group had sought out a rural location where the nonprofit could establish a family feel for residents. They had also planned on developing land around the church into a garden, market and park area for the public to use.
Now, Earl has announced the nonprofit will be putting the church building and land up for sale again because of so much local opposition. The group would have needed some zoning changes or at least a 'Use On Review' by the Metropolitan Planning Commission.
"We don't want to force ourselves on anyone,"Earl said.
"And we didn't want to go through that zoning battle. So, we felt like we needed to move on and carry on the dream that God's given us for these men. We just need to do it somewhere else. And God's opened up doors for that."
Not all of the neighbors opposed the plan for the home. Young mother of two Ashley Turpin said she was disappointed the home would not be coming to the area, because she understands many people need help with addiction.
"It's a big big problem here in Knoxville. So I think we would really benefit from having another recovery house in the area."
Angelic Ministries is still searching for the next location for the group home. Earl said the nonprofit has helped some 150 men over the past decade.
"There's always gonna be risks, and I understand some of the fears, I understand some of the concerns. But I think we're a very responsible ministry,"he said.
Mills reacted to the news of the upcoming church sale with,
"I feel good about that. Because it's reassuring that when citizens speak out, we're heard and it makes a difference."