By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.- On Wednesday night, the township board held a special meeting to keep residents informed on the group home on Sleepy Hollow.
The adult foster care facility first caused residents to worry when it was discovered that two paroled sexual offenders were placed in that group home in April. It is stated in Michigan law that Adult Foster Care facilities are not for those recently released from correctional facilities.
“I know how frustrated you all are, and I know I’m not nearly as frustrated as you all are,” said Trustee Scott Broughton. “But we’re doing everything we can.”
After the original incident, township supervisor Kathy Thurman had filed two complaints with the department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and on July 23, an investigation report was received.
The report found that while there had been two of the three residents there who were recently released from prison, they were removed for their own protection.
The owner of the group home said that he does not intend to admit residents who are directly released from prison into the home. The report’s conclusion stated that it was “determined the home is not commonly described as a residential facility for persons released from an adult correctional institution.”
And, “It is not the intent of the licensee designee to solely admit ex-cons and/or sex offenders.”
Though no violations were found on the allegations that parolees and criminal sex offenders are living in the home, or that the owner does not have good moral character, the other residents of Sleepy Hollow would like the township to appeal.
“That’s why I would like to follow up on their investigation, because it felt like they were saying that there was no violation because they weren’t there anymore, that her complaint was invalid because they weren’t in violation anymore,” said trustee Dana DePalma. “But they were at one point in violation.”
The township is also taking steps to make sure that another group home cannot open on the same street. No amendments were passed, but an ordinance amendment was examined for suggestion to the Planning Commission that would not allow adult foster care facilities within 1,500 feet of each other, however, if passed, it would not go into effect for a few months.
“I know everyone is for this one, but what if there’s something you didn’t want? What if there was something we wanted to pass and we didn’t have to follow those rules,” said DePalma. “There has to be rules put in place so when there is something we’re doing, the residents have fair say.”
In the meantime it was suggested that the residents continue to make complaints to LARA, especially when police are called. One resident said they had called the police Sunday night because two people from the group home were allegedly outside, yelling expletives and threats at each other loud enough for neighbors to hear.
“There’s something that shows that they [the police] were there and this was the nature of the complaint,” said Trustee Bob Marshall. “Always get a complaint number when they come out, even if you have to call the dispatcher afterwards, that way the [LARA] can track it down and there will be some documentation.”
Residents also suggested that the township adopt ordinances like surrounding communities have. Some suggestions were that the owner of the group home be required to live on the premise, though it is unsure if that is enforceable.
“The state of Michigan can always come in and say their ordinance supersedes ours,” said Broughton.
“It might be in the ordinance, but if someone challenged it, is it enforceable?” said DePalma. “Can you force the owner to live there? The state would say no because it’s not in their ordinances.”
DePalma, Broughton and Thurman all attended a meeting with LARA and the Michigan Department of Corrections in June to discuss what had happened and how to stop it from happening again.
“I felt like they were listening to me, the Department of Corrections,” said DePalma. “Because, if you read the law, that’s why they removed them, because they weren’t supposed to be there.”