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City's Mission's plans concern Uniontown residents

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Saturday, March 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Uniontown residents voiced their concerns Thursday evening about the City Mission's plans to construct a six-unit apartment building on Nutt Avenue during a public hearing held by the Uniontown Zoning Hearing Board.

The City Mission, which provides transitional and supportive housing to homeless residents, is requesting a zoning variance in an “R2” residential area that permits the construction of multiple-family dwellings. The variance is needed to allow for property setback changes.

At the hearing, residents told board members and City Mission representatives they were concerned about potential drug problems and parking issues.

“What about drug testing for the tenants,” asked Helen Thomas of 52 Nutt Ave.

Patricia Patton of 34 Nutt Ave. asked for details about disabilities suffered by potential tenants.

“We're concerned that some of these people may have had drug and mental health issues in the past,” Patton said. “I'm a nurse, and I realize that people do have relapses. We already have housing projects behind us. We don't need any more problems in the neighborhood.”

Irmi Gaut, executive director of the City Mission, said some of the tenants who will be moving into the two-story apartment complex do suffer from drug problems and mental health issues. But the future tenants have completed drug programs and passed drug screenings at the mission's Gallatin School building.

“The people that will become tenants at the Nutt Avenue site have already completed our programs and are doing very well,” Gaut said. “We really don't think there will be any problems.”

Attorney Gretchen Mundorff, who represented the City Mission at the public hearing, asked Uniontown Police Chief Jason Cox to testify.

Mundorff asked Cox questions about whether there have been any police issues at the City Mission's two similar sites located at 113 Liberty Park in the city's East End and Sycamore Hills at 144 S. Mt. Vernon Ave.

“We haven't had any major police issues at those sites,” Cox said.

“I know all about Nutt Avenue and drugs,” added board member Pete Hook, an attorney who was previously employed in the Fayette County District Attorney's office.

Cox said most of the drug issues are centered at the bottom of Nutt Avenue which intersects with South Mount Vernon Avenue.

“The issue appears to be the non-owned properties that are occupied by tenants,” Cox said.

Residents also expressed concerns about the apartment complex only providing space for six vehicles.

“There really isn't enough room to park a lot of cars along Nutt Avenue,” Russell Fulmer said. “I'm concerned about how this apartment complex will affect Nutt Avenue, which is a very narrow street.”

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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