Denham Springs council delays women’s group home

The City Council again tabled action Monday night on a variance for a proposed group home for young women.

At the council’s last meeting, Door of Hope Ministry asked the city to grant a variance that would allow it to open a home for 12 to 20 young women who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse and other problems, including drug abuse. Council members expressed concern about the condition of the building the group wants to repair and asked the group for information on how it proposes to correct the building’s problems.

On Monday night, Rick Foster, who heads the city’s building department, told the council he has not received any documents from the group.

Kristen Maddux, founder of the nonprofit organization, said information about the council’s concerns was sent to council members, but it was not clear that information needed to be submitted to the building department at this point. Councilman John Wascom moved to grant a variance to the group, but the motion died for a lack of a second.

“I don’t see any reason why we would hold these people up or why we wouldn’t give them a variance,” Watson said. “This is America. They have a right to succeed or to fail.”

The comments brought applause from supporters of the group home, but no second from other council members.

If the plans are submitted to the building office, the council will take the matter up again at its first meeting in May, Councilman Arthur Perkins said.

Councilwoman Lori Lamm Williams suggested the organization try to purchase additional property, so it does not need a variance.

The group has sought a variance that would allow the group home to open despite the fact that the plot of land where it would be located is only 4.23 acres rather than the 5 acres required by city ordinance for such a site.

Lamm-Williams also suggested that members of the organization talk to neighbors about neighborhood concerns.

Maddux said she has talked to potential neighbors.

In another matter, residents of Lakeland Acres showed up at the council meeting about a concern for their roads because an auto dealership wants to use the roads to move heavy equipment onto property where it wishes to add a parking lot.

Mayor Jimmy Durbin said he has reached an agreement with the All Star Dealership Properties LLC to put up $25,000 for road repairs when the project is finished.

Parish President Layton Ricks has also agreed to move the priority of the roads up on the overlay list, if the Parish Council agrees, Durbin said.