The proposal for the project would've put the halfway housing development 335 feet from Joshua Academy's property. Many spoke at the meeting, saying they applaud what the company is trying to do, but agree, it's too close for comfort for when kids are involved.
The answer is 'no' at the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. The answer comes after a Florida-based company called, The Transition House, proposed for a halfway house to be built near an Evansville school zone. The location put the project well in violation of city ordinance, so the company asked the board to grant a waiver.
It was the sound from numerous people in the packed house that had the board turning down that request.
"We say no risk. We choose no, and hope for no risk for our kids." They all give their reasons, from Executive Director and Principal of Joshua Academy, Pam Decker, to Larry Rascoe, the school's founder. "I did not compromise with my five kids, as it relates to the school that I sent them to, and I can not compromise with the 255 kids that come to Joshua Academy."
"Our duty is to protect our citizens, especially our kids," says Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin. "I think if we allow this there, we are taking a chance with our kids, and we shouldn't do that."
Councilwoman, Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley, takes the mic as well. Jessica Thomas says it's a topic that hits close to home. Her father was once in a transitional home. "Even with that being said, and the understanding of what this is all about, the transitional housing, I'm still not ok with this being so close to my children's school," says Thomas.
In the end, it was a comment from a student herself that captured the attention of a packed house. "I go to Joshua Academy, and I'm nine years old, in the fourth grade. I don't want this to happen, because I don't' want to be scared to go to school. God Bless America."
The CEO of The Transition House, Thomas Griffin, says his company was not coming up to Evansville to cause problems, they were coming to the area to do the right thing.