Councilwoman Riley Encourage Your Attendance At Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting this Thursday at 4 pm in Room 301‏

Dear City County Observer Readers,
3rd Ward City Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley
3rd Ward City Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley
I ask for your help and attendance at the BZA meeting this Thursday at 4 pm.
Evansville has a half-way house/residential reentry facility located at 811 E. Franklin St., which is in the Third Ward. The facility is operated by the Volunteers of America within strict guidelines set out by both the Bureau of Prisons and Indiana Department of Corrections. The VOA has had the contract with the BOP for the last five years. Their contract expires at the end of February. Pursuant to standard procedure, the BOP issued a Request for Proposals towards the end of 2013. The RFP triggered a flurry of letters from companies outside of Evansville identifying various properties where they intended to open a facility should they win the BOP contract. As you know, this prompted the Area Planning Commission, Dr. Adams and I to amend our zoning ordinances to codify the process that the VOA went through in obtaining the current location. Previously, our zoning code could have been interpreted to allow these facilities on properties zoned R2 and C2. We amended the ordinance to require a zoning of M1, M2, M3 or C4. We also added the requirement that a facility of this nature could not be located within a 1000 feet of a school.
In the last five years of dealing with the VOA, there has not been one cited problem. I met with the staff today and toured the facility. They can hold up to 100 residents from the state and federal prisons and have the ability to double their capacity if necessary. They have a full-time drug counselor, social worker and employment case manager. They are typically at 95% of their residents being employed locally. They do a nice job, and the city has already accommodated this location with a bus stop, and many of the residents work at Tri-State Resource Recovery during their time in the facility.
The bid for the BOP contract is now down to the VOA and a company out of Florida called Transitional Housing. The VOA is an Indiana company. This Florida company has entered a contract to purchase a building at 1227 E. Michigan, JUST 335 FEET FROM JOSHUA ACADEMY. Our ordinance and the policy behind it will be tested this Thursday at 4 pm as Transitional Housing asks for a variance on the 1000 feet requirement. The bus stop for Joshua Academy is directly in front of this address. Joshua Academy has preschoolers who are 3 years old.
This is unacceptable, not just to me as the representative for the third ward but also to the parents and neighbors to Joshua Academy. Please join me and representatives from the Mayor’s office, ECHO housing, Joshua Academy, and the Urban Enterprise Zone as we ask that this variance be denied.
Please let me know if you have any questions, and I hope to see you Thursday.
Stephanie Brinkerhoff Riley
3rd Ward City Council Woman


  1. Unrelated, but where were the sign police on the new huge sign at green river and Virginia? The acropolis owner was turned down recently to put a sign in the same spot that was probably 1/5 the height of that monster.

  2. It’s not broken, and we shouldn’t try to fix it.
    Seems to me that there us a lot of exchange of political favors going on between IN and FL these days.

  3. I wonder if “Transitional Housing” has any ties to another Florida-based Pence contributor, GEO. It is the private prison company that has been very generous with our governor, and it DOES NOT show a good track-record, at all.
    I think this would be a good investigative piece for CCO to tackle.

    • Good job, SBR! The fact that Transitional Housing even took such an objectionable proposal to the Zoning Board makes me question what sort of an operation they’d run.

  4. Why don’t we just build enough prisons to hold every criminal indefinitely since we want to continue to punish, ostracize, and shun anyone who wants another chance at being a productive citizen.

    • It looks like our Governor likes that kind of thinking. The truth is that a lot of people’s real “punishment” doesn’t start until they are freed and try to find a decent place to live and a job.

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