Blue Sky Family Care has won its appeal to open a group home in Marystown.
In a decision last week, the Newfoundland Regional Appeal Board reversed an earlier decision by the Town of Marystown, which had denied the application.
Blue Sky Family Care had applied to the town earlier this year to operate a group home at 31-33 Butler’s Road.
Council refused the application in a meeting on June 3, stating the proposed group home was zoned as a residential area and therefore could not be used for commercial use.
Blue Sky launched an appeal on June 17, stating the town’s decision was inconsistent with its own development regulations.
However, the Appeal Board found the town's zoning regulations did, in fact, permit such a home in the residential area.
“We are pleased with the decision of the municipal review board,” Anne Whalen, Executive Director for Blue Sky, told The Southern Gazette.
Whalen said they are still unsure when they will be able to take youth into the location as the town can file an appeal of the board’s decision.
She said Blue Sky is now working to reconnect with staff that were hire for the location but had to be laid off due to the delay.
Whalen said they hope to re-hired all of those who were initially employed, but notes that some of those people have moved onto other opportunities.
“The home manager that we hired, which is a senior (position), has moved on to do something else, which is unfortunate,” she said.
Whalen said that the issues between the town and Blue Sky are only part of the story.
“Right at the heart of it there are young people,” she said.
“How the town responded to the unfounded concerns of the neighbors, had an impact on them, it was stressful on them, it sent a message (that) we don’t want you in this town.”
Whalen said she hopes once these young people are in the community things will settle down and people will see that there is no need for worry.
The Butler’s Road provided everything that they group was hoping to find when looking for a location for the youth home, she said.
“We like for our homes to be on residential streets, in residential neighborhoods,” said Whalen
“We like to have (some) land so there is (a) yard, and we need a big house. In Marystown (that location) met all that criteria . . they’re not supposed to be institutions out in the woods; they are supposed to be homes.”
The town does have the right to appeal the decision of the Appeals Board. However, officials from the town of Marystown could not be reached for comment up to the deadline for this edition of The Southern Gazette.