Plans for a proposed facility on Dally Road that helps paroled felons transition back into society has its neighbors in an uproar and Walton County officials scrambling for information.
Former Atlanta Braves outfielder Otis Nixon operates On-Track Ministries in Lithonia and has a lease purchase agreement on a property near Jersey in southwest Walton County. He says he is using the site for guests to hunt and fish and enjoy but has not formally opened another campus for the ministry.
"I’m in a holding pattern," he said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "I’m not operating yet."
Nixon has not applied for any required zoning changes for the property and has not talked with potential neighbors.
Residents have expressed safety concerns over the proposed campus. "Everybody on the road is in panic mode," said Dally Road resident Tony Smith. "Basically, the feeling of the community is we don’t want it."
Neighbor Jim Stalvey agreed. "We sure don’t need them out there. It’s a quiet community."
Walton County officials want to meet with Nixon on Monday or Tuesday.
"We’re kind of waiting and seeing if they are trying to run a halfway home," said Kevin Little, Walton County Commission chairman.
The property is zoned A1 (rural residential) and would need approval as R3 (multi-use residential) or OI (office and institutional) to operate as a transitional facility, said Mike Martin of the county’s planning and zoning department.
Nixon said he wants to meet with each of the neighbors and allay concerns.
"We’re hunting, fishing and enjoying the property," he said.