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Neighbors want adult family home to relocate
Conversations in the cul-de-sac of Whited Place in the Commodore Lane subdivision have reached a hostile level among neighbors who are against having an adult family home next door and the owners of the business who are threatening a lawsuit if their enterprise is disrupted.
The adult home, Bailey Manor, opened its doors several weeks ago in the five-house cul-de-sac. Initially several neighbors received the business warmly, but relations have grown tense as neighbors fear there will be a rise in traffic and a fall in the property values of their homes.
“We wish they had told us before they established the business,” said Jack Wilson, who lives near Bailey Manor. “Their business is going to involve a lot more activity than our cul-de-sac can handle and still maintain our quality of life and safety.”
More than 10 residents who live nearby the adult home lined up at last week’s city council meeting to present their complaints against the business and to ask the city to intervene. A few of the neighbors are taking matters into their own hands by posting signs in their windows and driveways stating: “Do you want your loved one in a hostile neighborhood? We don’t want a business located in our cul-de-sac” and “Think twice before using any group home.” One sign also listed the website for the Seattle Times series on abuse and neglect in adult family homes.
The owners, Rob and Marti Bailey, sent a letter through their attorney last week threatening legal action against the neighbors if their business is threatened or harassed.
Although residents said they have no complaint with the nature of the business, they added that the location – in the Commodore neighborhood just west of three island schools – puts neighborhood children at a greater risk in an already busy location. (Commodore Lane has no outlet except High School Road.)
At the city council meeting, one of the residents estimated there are 50 children in the neighborhood and a host of high school kids who park in and around the neighborhood during school hours.
Wilson and his wife, Annie, both of whom are retired, said the delivery, emergency, employee and visiting family vehicles have already increased the traffic flow.
According to Annie Wilson, there was already a close call when a young girl was nearly struck while riding her bicycle in the neighborhood.
According to residents, the use of an adult home is prohibited in the neighborhood protective covenants, but the city can’t enforce those covenants and leaves that responsibility to the residents.
Neighbors asked the city to prevent the business from opening in a residential area, but federal and state laws require cities to treat disabled or adult family homes the same way they treat other residential uses. Under state law (RCW 70.128.175), the city doesn’t have an option to prevent an adult family home from being located in a residential neighborhood.
“Realistically I’m not sure what we can do because our hands are tied and we don’t have options,” said Janet Millerd, a neighbor and parent of three children in the cul-de-sac. “It is an emotional issue for the neighborhood, and residents need to know that this can happen anywhere.”
Bailey Manor was issued a conditional business license by the city in August allowing the owners to house one resident in the two-story home until they obtain a license from the state.
Owner Marti Bailey said they have applied for the license and the process usually takes about six weeks. If granted, they can add as many as five more residents under state law. Bailey said the home has three large bedrooms and they plan on asking for the maximum of six residents, but the actual number of residents at any given time will vary depending on their wants and needs.
The Baileys have owned and operated an adult family home in Auburn for more than five years and had wanted to expand their business to the island for years. They said in an e-mail that they “never dreamed that we would be so unwelcome [in Bainbridge] as this is not the case at our home in Auburn, which is also located in a cul-de-sac.”
Bailey said they looked around the island for some time before settling on Whited Place. They wanted a rambler-style home with an open floor plan and close proximity to Winslow Way, good landscaping and a pleasant neighborhood within a reasonable price range.
Bailey Manor will employ four caregivers, each of whom will each work 12-hour shifts. Bailey said the impact on the neighborhood is most likely less than what a family of two or three children would have.
Bailey hopes the hostility will end with the neighbors since they are conscious of their concerns and will be good citizens and neighbors, she said.