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Local residents upset over new group home

Several Hartselle residents showed up at Tuesday’s regular council meeting to voice their concerns about a group home sponsored by the Volunteers of America.

However, city leaders say there is little they can do to stop it from happening.

City Attorney Larry Madison addressed the council and the crowd about the issue, saying that federal law requires cities to accomodate them.

“The Fair Housing Act says that we cannot restrict them from coming to Hartselle because they have the same rights to live where the want to as anyone else,” Madison said.

Madison added that the city might restrict the number of group home residents because of the city’s definition of a single family, which is either a group of relatives living together or a group of no more than four people who are not related.

Because of that restriction, Madison said they might be able to limit the number.

“From what I understand, Volunteers of America will ask the city for a variance to allow five instead of four,” Madison said. “That will be up to the zoning board of adjustments. However, you have to have a good reason to not grant the variance and traffic is a valid reason for rejecting the request.”

Resident Elmo Kerr said he felt like the residents in that area were being slighted.

“I never found out about this until Sunday,” Kerr said. “I don’t know why we didn’t hear about this sooner.”