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City of Springfield Denies Group Home Permit

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The City of Springfield has denied the request for a group home occupancy permit. The residence at the intersection of Crestview and Glenstone has housed multiple people who are on probation and or parole.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The block of 1800 E. Crestview is lined with family homes-- but one house now sticks out.

The residence of 1809 E. Crestview has housed six to seven people who are on probation and/or parole and includes sex offenders.

"Finding out that there's predators that live there living there-- it makes it a little more shocking," said Jenny Green who lives in the Crestview neighborhood.

Green lives a few houses across from the facility and said she once noticed something odd.

"There was an incident where i saw one of the guys coming from that house, following one of the neighbors while she was walking home," she said.

Reverend Farris Robertson runs the facility. He said it's a "group home" for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, some of whom are sex offenders.

According to the City of Springfield, if there are multiple people who are unrelated who are on parole or probation living in the same house, the classification of a house is a correctional facility.

"A correctional facility is not allowed by our zoning ordinance in a residential neighborhood," said Greg Burris, Manager of the City of Springfield. "Mr. Robertson agreed and admitted that he did not obtain a city permit before he started and established that group home."

It's this provision that prompted the city to deny Robertson a permit for a group home.

"We had an obligation to go back and check and see based on neighborhood concerns, is it legal use of the facility in a residential neighborhood," said Burris.  "And what we determined is no it's not."

Robertson now has three options--  he can come into compliance with zoning ordinances, he could move his facility to a "heavy manufacturing" zone, or he relocate his operation outside of the city.

Many neighbors said they'd prefer the facility to be relocated. Mark Swanson lives on the block and said he believes in second chances, but worries about the potential.

"There is a group there, sometimes it can be good, but a lot of times, the company that you're with, it might not be good," said Swanson. "I would rather it not be a group.

Robertson said monitoring the sex offenders through his "group home" is a better option than having them live on the streets homeless. He has 30 days to decide which option he will take. He said he is going to work with the city on this issue, and Burris in turn, said city representatives plan to also work with Robertson to figure out what his legal options are.


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