Before you go …

If you like what you are reading and believe in independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism like ours—journalism the way it should be—please contribute to keep us going. Reporting like this isn’t free to produce and we cannot do this alone. Thank you!

The Fayetteville City Council will hold a public hearing at its regular meeting Thursday to amend an ordinance to include new restrictions on halfway houses, places where those incarcerated nearing release live before reentering society. The new restrictions, if passed by the council, would limit the number of people allowed to live in a halfway house. The specific restrictions would depend on its proximity to single-family and multifamily housing.

The public hearing will take place during the meeting in Fayetteville City Hall. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Halfway houses provide employment counseling, job placement, financial management assistance and other programs to incarcerated people nearing release as they reintegrate into their community, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Following the public hearing, the council will accept or deny the amendments or table the issue to a later date.

If the Council accepts the amendments, the ordinance would:

  • Change the legal name of a halfway house to a “community reintegration center.” According to the text of the proposed amendments, the new name would also fall under a new legal definition:

“A secured facility that provides temporary housing and supportive services for persons transitioning from an institutional or custodial setting, or as an alternative to such a setting, wherein residents receive supervision, rehabilitation, and counseling to assist their readjustment into society and achievement of personal independence. Residents may receive services for purposes that include, but are not limited to: (a) recuperation from addiction or psychiatric disorders (a disability); (b) reentering society while under the constraints of alternatives to imprisonment including, but not limited to, prerelease, work release, or probationary programs (not a disability); or (c) assistance with family or school adjustment problems that require specialized attention (not a disability). Formerly known as, Halfway House.”

  • Limit the centers to 30 residents within a half-mile of a single-family zoning district; limit to 40 residents within 500 feet of a multifamily zoning district; limit to the most restrictive amount if the center is within the given radius of both a single-family and multifamily zoning district.
  • Limit the centers to mixed-use and community commercial zoning districts.

The amended ordinance would also change the legal definition of a halfway house.

Currently, the ordinance does not require any limits on the number of residents. Halfway houses can also currently be built in mixed-use, community commercial, mixed residential 5, downtown, limited commercial and office institutional zoning districts. Further information on what can be built in these zoning districts can be found here.

The special-use permit process would still be required for halfway houses. The process requires halfway houses, including various other types of developments, to go through an application process whereby the developer would need to give details on development and consider any potential negative impacts on property nearby.

As part of the special-use permit process, approval of any community reintegration center, which they would be called if the amended ordinance passed, would still be subject to a public hearing before both the city’s Zoning Commission and City Council.

Residents interested in speaking during the public hearing must sign up by 5 p.m. Thursday. Residents can sign up by phone at 910-433-1312, by fax at 910-433-1980, by email at cityclerk@ci.fay.nc.us or through the city’s online form found here.

When signing up, residents must state if they favor or oppose to the amended ordinance.

Controversy surrounding halfway house

Before city staff introduced the amended ordinance, controversy surrounded a halfway house in Fayetteville.

In 2020, the City Council denied a permit for a halfway house off Cain Road near Bragg Boulevard. In March of last year, however, the N.C. Court of Appeals forced the issue to go back to the City Council for approval, CityView reported. The City Council approved a special-use permit for the halfway house later that month.

Some residents near the area are against the halfway house. A Facebook page was created in opposition, and there is also a petition on change.org.

The halfway house would be owned and operated by Kentucky-based Dismas Charities Inc. The organization, which has facilities in Charlotte and Greensboro, offers education, employment and support services to formerly incarcerated people, according to its website.

Resources/Links

Community reintegration center presentation to City Council

Amended ordinance affecting halfway houses

Appeal reversing 2020 City Council decision

Online sign-up form for public hearing

Details on special-use permit process

List of zoning districts in Fayetteville

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Send an email to news@carolinapublicpress.org.

Correction: The Fayetteville City Council is considering proposed, not potential, new legal restrictions.

Ben Sessoms

Ben Sessoms is a former Carolina Public Press reporter. To reach the Carolina Public Press newsroom, email news@carolinapublicpress.org.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *