Tuesday, May 20, 2008

About this Blogspot...

This blog serves as an information hub for the residents of Rolling Fields, a subdivision of Columbia, Tennessee and their effort to protect their community from commercial encroachment. This subdivision, developed in the late 1950s, is one of Columbia's most established and convenient. However, its convenience has also appealed to a number of commercial interests in the last several years, the latest being an attempt by Centerstone Community Mental Health to convert one of Rolling Field's premier homes (1000 Rolling Fields Circle) into a group treatment facility for persons with certain serious mental health problems. Centerstone is one of the largest providers of mental health services in the United States.

Centerstone’s purpose is to use the facility as a replacement for its existing “Jackson Hall,” a facility designed for the continued treatment and temporary housing of persons suffering from a mental illness or illnesses (e.g. paranoid schizophrenia), often transitioning such persons from local jails, psychiatric hospitals or homeless shelters to more stable, permanent housing. The proposal calls for up to eight (8) so-called “residents” and up to three (3) Centerstone staff members. It is very important to understand that this is not a facility for the treatment or housing of mentally retarded or autistic individuals, but rather by persons with some other diagnosed psychiatric illness(es).

A few months ago, Marie Voss, a resident of 1002 Rolling Fields Circle, filed suit to stop Centerstone’s intended use of the property. In her complaint, Ms. Voss presents several arguments, including that the property is not zoned for such use. That lawsuit is still pending and is many months from being finished. Ms. Voss’ attorney, Jason Whatley, is very confident that the lawsuit will ultimately stop Centerstone from using the house as planned. However, Mr. Whatley also cautions that Centerstone will likely occupy the facility while the lawsuit is pending and before any final decision of the courts on the issues.

There are many different reasons why our residents may be opposed to having this facility in Rolling Fields. However, one common objection is that the use of this residence as part of Centerstone’s continuum of treatment introduces a major commercial use into the heart of our residential community. Many of our neighbors believe that it is critical that the continued pressure to commercialize homes in Rolling Fields, especially those close to Trotwood Avenue, must be stopped in order to insure the survival of one of Columbia’s most special neighborhoods.

It is for this and other reasons that our community is in the process or organizing a very reasonable, but forceful campaign to stop Centerstone, utilizing the legal process, the media and other political/governmental assistance. It is the belief of many that each of these areas must be utilized to convince Centerstone that 1000 Rolling Fields Circle is a bad choice for a mental health treatment facility.


Anonymous said...

Wonder if people using wheelchairs, canes or crutches are likewise undesireables... What about African American, Jewish, etc... are going to come in & "commercialize" the neighborhood...

This is a classic case of "Not in my neighborhood" mindset.

Hope all of you that live there & see your doctor for depression, anxiety, or a bunch of other MENTAL ILLNESSES don't let your neighbors find out...

Jason Whatley said...

The last post is the type of irrational response we have been seeing. First, it is classic race baiting for the "anonymous" poster to throw out such accusations. Only persons with no facts in support of their side stoop to such tactics.

Second, Centerstone is commercial. It is the largest mental health care provider in the country. Its patients pay for their services, such being the essence of "commerce." It is commercial, period.

Third, I do not have a problem with the patients at Jackson Hall because of their ethnicity, race, religion, etc. The problem had by the entire community is that this entity has a track record of being bad neighbors, as evidenced by 35 dispatches from the Columbia Police Department to Jackson Hall since late 2005 alone. Everything from assault, fighting, people being unconscious, allegations of illegal activity,and even one alleged hostage situation (that being one alleged to have been hallucinated by the caller). There are allegations of illegal activity taking place by certain Jackson Hall residents in areas around Jackson Hall. These reports indicate suicide attempts. We have recieved information that these patients sometime hallucinate to the extent of losing touch with reality altogether.

Now, with this track record can you, anonymous poster, point to one parent in America that would be happy in having Jackson Hall as a neighbor. I think not.

Of course, all of this is only our motivation to stand against what we know to be illegal anyway -- the placement of a commercial (i.e., money making) enterprise in the heart of a residentially-zoned subdivision.

Anonymous, stick to the facts.

Jason Whatley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"Ms. Voss presents several arguments, including that the property is not zoned for such use"

Case closed, Sale of property for commerical business purposes Illegal,in a residentialy zoned neighborhood.

Whomever negociated the sale of house and property, knowingly for illegal corporate activities should be prosecuted.

The next step is to buy off the city of Columbia, to rezone for commercial purposes, that wouldn't suprise me in the least.

It's much easier t keep them from moving in, illegally, than let them move in, and then try to get a corporate collaberation out.

Centerstone is in violation of zoning laws if they infiltrate the legally residentialy zoned house and property, and must cease and desist all attempts to violate these laws.

This isn't Trotwood Ave.

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand what the problem is with this situation. If the residents of Rolling Fields wouldn't have made such a big stink about Centerstone being in their neighborhood no one would have ever known they were there. I have been a client of Jackson Hall in the past and if it wasn't for them I would have never been able to get my life in order. I have personally been there and I have several friends who have gone there and we have never had anything happen to us or anybody while we were there. Jackson Hall is such a quiet peacefully place I can't believe that your community is being this way. If you would have been a welcoming community. Then the press would not be drawing such attention to the site. Now no matter what you will always have the people who want to gawk and stare at what is going on at this house, because you have made it such a public problem. My hats off to Centerstone for being there for everyone no matter what thier station in life is. I wish I could say hats off to Rolling Fields for being such a welcoming community, unfortunatly I can't. Maybe one day it will all work out and become a peacefull neighborhood once again.

Anonymous said...

Read the state code:
Federal and State Law and
Housing for People with
Disabilities A number of statutes and court decisions provide guidance on whether
and how governments can regulate or restrict housing for people with

State law
While most of the statutes regarding discrimination against housing for people with disabilities are federal, providers of housing and other
services for people with disabilities will find most helpful a state statutory
provision that reads as follows:

For the purposes of any zoning law in Tennessee, the classification "single family residence" includes any home in
which eight (8) or fewer unrelated mentally retarded, mentally
handicapped or physically handicapped persons reside, and may
include three (3) additional persons acting as houseparents or
guardians, who need not be related to each other or to any of the
mentally retarded, mentally handicapped or physically
handicapped persons residing in the home.2

This provision overrides any local zoning regulations to the contrary3 and means that homes for fewer than eight people with disabilities and three
caretakers must be treated as though they are single-family homes. This means they can generally locate in any residential neighborhood as a
matter of right without seeking relief from zoning regulations, such as a variance or a special-use permit. They also may not be subjected to any procedures (public hearings) or special requirements (such as expensive
fire safety equipment, unless the local government can show a genuine
need) to which other single-family homes do not have to submit.
However, the single-family classification does not apply to “such family residences wherein handicapped persons reside when such residences are operated on a commercial basis.”4 In 1982, the Tennessee Court of Appeals discussed the boundaries of commercial operation in Nichols v.
Tullahoma Open Door, Inc.:5
[T]he statutory scheme did not seek to exclude a group home not
operating for profit ... on the basis that it was operating as a
commercial business simply because defendant received subsidies and rent to repay the mortgage loan and to pay staff members. No commercial purpose for the group home has been shown and we are of the opinion that the home is not operating on a commercial basis.6
The import of this case is that providers of housing for eight or fewer people with disabilities that is operated on a non-profit basis will be
protected by this state zoning law. However, for-profit providers (and providers of housing for more than eight people) are still protected by the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and have the right to request relief from zoning requirements as a reasonable accommodation to their residents with disabilities.

2 TENN. CODE § 13-24-102.
3 TENN. CODE ANN. § 13-24-103.
4 TENN. CODE ANN. § 13-24-104.
5 640 S.W.2d 13 (Tenn. App. 1982)
6 Id. At 17.
7 Id.
8 Id. at 18.

Anonymous said...

It would be very unwise to incorporate Rolling Fields Subdivision: