Frustration mounts over safe house
Saturday, August 29, 2015
SNOW HILL — Greene County officials said they were continuing to pursue avenues to oppose a safe house for sex-trafficked boys as neighboring property owners vented frustration during a recent board of commissioners meeting.
Construction of The Anchor House is well underway on N.C. 903 in the Scuffleton community near the Pitt County line. The project is a mission of Restore One, a Christian ministry based in Greenville.
Commissioners earlier this summer adopted a resolution opposing the project after receiving repeated pleas from the neighboring residents. County Attorney Borden Parker told commissioners on Aug. 17 that he has yet to receive information he requested from the N.C. Attorney General’s office on what authority the county has to stop the project.
“Because we do not have zoning in Greene County, that is not something that would be available to us,” Parker explained to commissioners. “I’m still waiting to hear from Restore One’s lawyer about some of the things I requested. I requested a lot of things, so I am not surprised that I haven’t gotten those yet.”
Scuffleton resident Earline Smith, whose property adjoins the Anchor House construction site, continued to ply commissioners with questions concerning the building project and the board’s response to it. She addressed Chairman Jerry Jones directly.
“If you and the county lawyer had told them when the resolution came out that you did not want them, if you had met with them ... they might have listened,” Smith said.
Smith and others said Restore One concealed its intentions to build the facility from residents buy filing paperwork under the name Blueberry Farms of Greene County.
“You could have tied them up in court because of their lies ... this resolution has no teeth in it. We were told you did it to pacify us,” she said.
Smith told commissioners they will be held responsible if the occupants of Anchor House cause any problems in their community.
“If we need to call anyone, it will be all five of you. It will not be the sheriff’s department, no matter what time it is, day or night,” she said.
Residents fear The Anchor House operations will result in a reduction in their property value, Smith said. She distributed a list of questions to which she insisted the board provide answers.
“Will they pay property taxes? How many males will there be there? Where will they come from? Will they be coming from other countries? What happens when they become 18? Who will pay for their health care? What happens when donations dry up? Will Greene County pick up the cost? I thought we were broke,” she said.
“Will we need extra deputies to baby sit these males? If they won’t take their medicine, will a deputy have to be called to make them? What about service homes being 2,640 feet apart?” Smith continued, but was stopped when her time was expired.”
Following a closed session, Commissioner Brad Fields disagreed with Smith’s allegations that commissioners were doing nothing.
“We represent the whole county,” Fields said. “We are working on it. We have to do it legally.”
Blaming commissioners if trouble arose in Scuffleton as a result of the home’s occupants was “unwarranted” and unfair, Fields added.
The Standard Laconic serves Greene County and in published Wednesdays in Snow Hill.