By Megan Boatwright,
Channel 3 Eyewitness News Reporter
EAST RIDGE, HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB) - A zoning issue in East Ridge threatens a group home. Neighbors are the ones who raised concerns about the home.
The home on Fountain Avenue is zoned as single family residential. Three men, recovering addicts, now rent the home.
Neighbors and city leaders want to know if the owner is following procedure.
"We were very concerned this is a neighborhood with a lot of families and young children," says concerned neighbor Stephen Panchaud.
Panchaud lives several houses down from Fountain Ave. He says it was around Christmas when his neighbor first approached him.
"The owner told us there were going to be a group of men moving in who had been in prison for drug offenses and DUI," the neighbor says the news was an immediate red flag. That's when he and several of his neighbors contacted the city.
"The Transformation Project is an alternative citizen program for addiction defenders and their families," says Wayne Keylon.
Keylon runs the ministry and says the men who now live in this home are part of it.
"We have an alliance of houses that people rent to live," Keylon says. The program itself doesn't provide housing so they work with churches and homeowners.
Channel 3 ran into the men last week. After hearing of a Chattanooga house fire the East Ridge group hired a dump truck and offered to help the fire victim for free. Keylon says the program has strict recovery policies including random monthly drug testing.
"I have brought inmates from Silverdale into my own home," Keylon says. "If the individuals aren't on drugs and alcohol they're just like me and you."
Still the city officials say it's about zoning and following procedure. They keep hearing conflicting stories from the homeowner. They're investigating to find out what the property's true use is.
The Fountain Ave. homeowner has hired a lawyer. Eddie Phillips with the city says certain types of group homes are allowed in residentially zoned neighborhoods, but they have to go through a review process and be approved first.