East Feliciana Police Jury punts to Zoning committee on Harmony Health

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At the March 28 meeting, opponents said they’re not against a mental health facility in general, but don’t understand why it has to be on Grace Lane.

“There’s plenty of state land they could put it on,” Travis said.

Jimmie Sanders, a 77-year-old lifelong Clinton resident, said Collis Temple Jr. should put the facility on his own property.

“You wouldn’t want it in your neighborhood, so don’t try to throw that on us,” Sanders said.

The Grace Nursing Home was built before the parish adopted zoning, and the property is currently zoned as agricultural, because that’s what everything was automatically zoned once the city instated zoning in 2008.

Some say the property should be zoned to require fences and 24/7 security. However, the Police Jury requires such zoned sites to be accessible by an arterial street, which Grace Lane is not.

Holladay and others also voiced concerns that the patients would be in danger in the event of a fire.

“One wing of the hospital is 25 feet from the road,” Holladay said. “It’s a very close, narrow, curvy dead-end street. If there’s a fire in the facility, patients are going to burn.”

The Planning and Zoning Committee said if the Police Jury decides to approve the facility, Harmony Health will have to submit plans to be rezoned.

Harmony Behavioral Health, in its lawsuit against the East Feliciana Parish Police Jury and building official Jeff Williams, accuses the parish of improperly denying construction permits.

Harmony Health entered an agreement with the Louisiana Department of Health to provide 118 beds starting June 1, in order for the state to move patients from an overcrowded Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System facility in Jackson.

Because of the deadline, Harmony Health asks in the lawsuit that the Policy Jury immediately issue a construction permit for renovations.

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