ALMA, Michigan (AP) – A central Michigan community planning commission opposes a zoning change that would turn a former retirement home into temporary housing for boys crossing the U.S. border without parents.
Alma commissioners recommended, 4-2, that the application be dismissed on Wednesday, after weeks of community tension and a public hearing that drew hundreds. The City of Alma Commission will make the final decision.
It would be unusual for the municipal commission to go against a recommendation of the planning commission.
“I do not feel comfortable accepting this proposal and I do not see any benefit to the health, safety, welfare or convenience of our citizens of Alma,” said Matt Schooley, City Manager and town planning commissioner.
Bethany Christian Services is interested in renting the Warwick Living Center to provide accommodation for boys for up to 40 days or until a sponsor is found. The boys, aged 12 to 17, crossed the southern border into the United States without parents or guardians and have no legal status in that country.
Nancy O’Brien, a teacher for nearly 40 years, said the planning commission was acting out of fear, Michigan Radio reported.
“It makes me emotional,” she said. “I want someone to take care of my children if, God forbid, a war breaks out or something like that happens to my family. “
There were cheers and applause after the planning committee vote.
“There are too many risks to allow human trafficking. … The best way to help them is to send them back to their country of origin, with their families, ”said Robi Rodriguez.
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