Washington County OKs American Rescue Plan spending for jail diversion program

The Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville.
The Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- County officials on Thursday approved spending $315,000 in American Rescue Plan funds for 2022 for the Returning Home program to divert probation violators away from the jail.

Nick Robbins, director of Returning Home, told the Jail/Law Enforcement & Courts Committee last week the $315,000 would expand the program from 10 beds to 16. Robbins said the cost to the county would drop from $60 per bed per day to $54 per bed per day.

Robbins told the justices of the peace there have been 57 individuals referred to the program and 28 placed in the program in the first year. He said the program has had a 28% graduation rate since it was approved by the county last year. He said a graduation event in two weeks should raise the graduation rate for the year to about 40%.

The Washington County Quorum Court voted 12-2 in favor of the ordinance appropriating the money. Justices of the peace Eva Madison and Suki Highers voted against the ordinance.

Also Thursday, the justices of the peace approved spending $233,000 in American Rescue Plan money to provide bonuses, referral incentives and sign-on bonuses for the county's Juvenile Detention Center. The ordinance mirrors earlier efforts to provide bonuses and incentives for the Sheriff's Office, the Detention Center and the Road Department.

The justices of the peace tabled consideration of an appeal from the county's Planning Board, which denied a conditional use permit for the Rock Town Layover RV Park at the board's Aug. 11 meeting.

The six-space RV park is planned for 39 acres at 16029 Crawley Road, on the southern edge of Washington County. The six spaces to be used for the RV park will take up less than one acre of the land.

Each RV space will be 80 feet long by 25 feet wide and will include an electrical hookup. The applicants outlined in their proposal that water and sewer hookups for the RVs will not be included in this development. The driveway and RV spaces will be graveled. The applicants also stated in their letter there will be a 45-day stay limit for any customers.

The applicants said in their proposal some of their expected clientele will be UTV/ATV/Side-by-Side users. The use of these off-road vehicles is popular in this area of the county and the nearby national forest.

Neighbors of the property said they chose to live in the area, which one described as "the middle of nowhere," and the RV park and off-road vehicles proposed will be harmful to the rural lifestyle.

The neighbors also said they already have issues with trash and noise from nonresidents, and some said they had people trespassing on their property. Concerns were also voiced about campers dumping wastewater at the site or in the area instead of disposing of it properly.

Troyce England, one of the property owners, said they were waiting on a test to determine the suitability of the land for a septic system and also waiting for some design work on a dump station for the site. The justices of the peace agreed to table action on the appeal until February to give time for the test results to be available.

County zoning

Land in unincorporated Washington County is zoned for agricultural or single-family residential use. All other uses require the property owner to obtain a conditional use permit through the county’s planning process. The permits must be approved by the Washington County Planning Board and the Quorum Court.

Source: Staff report

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