Proposed Winfield group home draws opposition

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WINFIELD, Kan. -- The people who live in a Winfield neighborhood say they like it there because it's quiet and it's safe.

However, they worry a proposal to convert a house in the neighborhood into a group hope for men recently out of prison could change that.

"Just worried to death about it," said Richard Clower, who lives three houses east of the proposed group home. "Lost a lot of sleep in the last two weeks."

The concern of some neighbors runs deep.

"I believe that it would destroy our neighborhood," said Nancy Wilson.

More than 60 people attended a neighborhood meeting at the Winfield Senior Center to organize their opposition to a proposal to turn the house at 1221 E. 7th Street into a faith-based group home for men recently released from prison or jail.

Neighbors are fighting zoning changes requested by the house's out-of-town owners because, they said, a halfway house does not fit the neighborhood.

"It's probably a good program, but just one person could make a mistake, you know, and harm a child," Clower said.

The house in question is in view of a playground. Plus, Clower said, several families with young children live in the neighborhood.

Brandy Bain operates a home daycare in the house behind the sight of the proposed group home. She said it makes her uncomfortable to know many of that house's windows overlook her back yard, where the seven to nine children she watches often play.

"We go on walks," Bain said. "I have some kids that will walk a block away to the library alone by the house. So, we just won't be able to do it anymore."

In addition to their safety concerns, people who have lived on 7th Street for decades worry about what a group home could mean for the values of their homes.

"Our property values would go next to nothing, we believe, and a lot of our neighbors don't have that option to relocate," Wilson said.

The Winfield Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed zoning changes. That meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 28 it City Hall.

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