Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect new information from the Department of Corrections and clarify neighbors' concerns.
Residents of a quiet south-end Puyallup neighborhood are worried a “halfway house” might soon move in.
They’ve started a Facebook page that has nearly 300 members and circulated an online petition that had 870 signatures as of late Tuesday afternoon. They say they've heard that as many as 20 recently released prisoners, including sex offenders, could eventually move in.
Their concerns got the attention of city officials. A community meeting is planned tonight to answer questions and share information about what’s allowed – and not allowed – under city code.
The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 333 S. Meridian.
The home is on Shaw Road, near 23rd Avenue. It’s nearly 2,700 square feet and sits on about 2 acres.
It has been unoccupied for a couple of years, but a local couple recently purchased it.
They’ve expressed interest in using it to help struggling veterans, said real estate agent Lesta Rogers, who helped with the sale.
The new owners, Larry and Brenda Parson, referred questions to Rogers.
“They were thinking that if we can give (veterans) a place to live that’s safe and out of the elements, and they can do (activities such as) gardening and tending chickens – that would have therapeutic value,” Rogers said.
As many as six unrelated people can live in the home at one time under city code.
Rogers said that’s all the owners are envisioning for now – a small number of veterans sharing rent. She acknowledged they could be making the transition from hospital or incarceration.
She also said an expansion could be proposed one day.
Tom Utterback, Puyallup’s development services director, said the city hasn’t received any formal proposals.
Reached Wednesday, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman said the property owners haven't submitted paperwork required for housing recently released prisoners under state supervision. However, she said, a DOC housing specialist has visited the home to offer advice about uses for the property.
Rogers runs an organization called White Feather Re-Entry, which provides transitional housing for recently released prisoners. She said the Shaw Road home could become part of White Feather if that’s what the owners want, but no contract is in place.
Meanwhile, neighbors are frustrated. They say they haven’t been getting clear information about plans for the property, and they have safety concerns about a group home operating in an area that’s filled with children, close to several schools.
They noted there’s no nearby bus route, nor any businesses in the immediate area to provide employment.
“It’s all residential housing, primarily families with kids. People walk their dogs, kids ride bikes. There’s a lot of activity,” said resident Dawne Talbott-Lloyd.
It’s not the right location, several residents said.