The planned senior care facility at 606 Flat Shoals Ave. in East Atlanta received support from Neighborhood Planning Unit-W at its meeting Wednesday night.
The controversial project, which received a vote of support from the East Atlanta Community Association earlier this month, still has to undergo a series of reviews with the Atlanta Zoning Review Board and the City Council before submission for the mayor's signature.
Primrose Pass Personal Care Community Living LLC is looking to take over the property, which sits at the southeast corner of Flat Shoals and Newton avenues, and turn it into a private, assisted living facility for seniors.
Primrose's principals, Erika Brown and Kimberly Castlin, say their facility would be home to up to 18 residents.
But East Atlanta homeowners who live near the property, expressed serious reservations about the project.
They noted the property, which earlier served as a group home for adults, some with mental problems, was the source of many problems in the neighborhood.
Peggy Hawes, who purchased her home — a former crack house — in 2002, told the NPU that she and her husband were subjected to repeated problems from the group home's residents.
"We endured shouts of rage, bottles thrown in our yard and other actions that suggested all was not well at 606 Flat Shoals," Hawes, who prefers that it be used a single family residential, said.
Despite calls to the police and state licensing and governing agencies, she told NPU members that nothing was done.
"The home stayed open until an incident happened that could not be ignored," she said, referring to a January 2008 incident that resulted in a shooting.
In that case, one of the group home's residents, a man who had a history of criminal behavior and mental instability, tried to break into the home of a disabled man just a few houses down Flat Shoals.
The homeowner shot the man in self-defense and the city revoked the group home operator's special use permit later that same year.
The property has been vacant since.
What Hawes and other neighbors want to avoid is a repeat of the past.
Brown and Castlin reiterated that they only would accept seniors who need need some care but are otherwise mentally stable.
They said they would have to have a psychologist on duty, 24 hours and 7 days a week if they wanted to accept patients with mental problems.
Castlin, a lifelong Decatur resident and nurse, said they have no intention to do that, nor do they want to.
She stressed that they have no connection to the prior operators and or the property owner.
As part of winning EACA's support for Primrose Pass' special use permit application with the city, they aggreed to let the permit expire every two years, which would require them to go before EACA and the NPU for review.
Obstensibly, that would give the community an opportunity to see how the operations worked and voice concerns, if any.
Still, some residents were not convinced that was enough. So, as part of its support for the project, NPU-W's members required that Primrose codify that it would not take in mental patients and define the medical parameters governing who would live there.
Specifically, "None of the patients shall be in need of an individual who is in need of continuous medical or nursing care," in the list of NPU-W's list of recommendations.
Brown and Castlin, who already said they will have an open door policy with the neighborhood and offer some free medical services such as blood pressure screenings, agreed to those requests.
As for the building itself, it need needs to be refurbished internally and externally. Brown said to bring it up to code, contractors estimate it will cost around $80,000, though she said she budgeted for it to cost more.
They don't own the property; they are negotiating with the owner to purchase it.
Any sale, however, is contingent on Primrose getting all the necessary permits and approvals to operate.