Salvation Army in battle with Winton Ridge residents

There's a controversy brewing in Winton Ridge. The Salvation Army Center, which houses and helps low income people and senior citizens, wants to expand.

But, many of the neighbors want no part of it. They say it could make their property values decline and could increase crime rates.

Time is running out for at least one half of this battle. The Salvation Army has a fast-approaching deadline of June 26 to have all of their plans done and approved by the city, and if they miss the deadline, they lose tons of federal money.

This was theirs and their neighbors third trip before the Livable Communities Committee of City Council and it ended with neither side a winner yet.

"We have had quite a bit of mischief already in our neighborhood, and would prefer not to have more," said Sue Sales, who was speaking on behalf of her neighborhood.

That's how she summed-up the changing face of her Winton Ridge community, which she hopes to keep safe.

"They have picked the 5 acres that, to the neighbors, would be the most egregious," Sales said.

"Some people just don't want it there," said Major Ronald Foreman, who is the Division Commander for The Salvation Army. "And there's not anything we're going to be able to do to appease them."

The Salvation Army wants to develop five hillside acres, within 70 feet of single-family homes.

"That's just the best place for us to build it on," Foreman said. "On property that we own."

There are 40 acres, with a senior living building that's been there since they bought and developed the property back in 1980 with plans to expand it, even back then.

"They could develop the other 25 acres that they own, that is at the bottom of the plateau, and no one would object," Sales said.

She said adding up to around 120 more people to the mix in their neighborhood, will only generate undesirable foot traffic.

"By congregating more vulnerable people, which the elderly and the disabled are, that there's a higher chance that there will be more predators in our neighborhood," she said.

But their biggest concern is the potential for the hill slipping.

"They plan on clear-cutting 5 acres of old-growth trees on a wooded hillside," Sales said. ""And because we all live on a hillside, we will have erosion and hillside slippage possibly."

"Well, if I'm going to be perfectly honest, I don't think they want this facility in their backyard," Foreman said.

He said the neighbors do have legitimate concerns and they have tried to address them.

"We have engineers involved," Foreman said. "We're not going to build something that's going to slip away down into the valley."

The Salvation Army could re-apply for the next round of HUD money next year, but they've already been told by HUD there will not be any capital dollars available next year.

They're going to try and sit-down with the neighbors and hopefully both sides can bring something positive to the table for their upcoming fourth visit to the Livable Communities Committee.

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