Neighbors upset with arrival of home for teens

Posted at 9:51 PM, May 07, 2014

OGDEN, Utah -- A group home for troubled teens is moving into an upscale neighborhood on Ogden's east bench, and some neighbors don't want it in their backyard.

The Blodgett family sold their home at 1528 27th St. a week ago and said, until two days before closing the deal, they had no idea it would be turned into a group home for teens.

They thought another family was moving in and are upset. Other neighbors feel deceived and are left with a lot of concerns and questions.

WayPoint Academy treats boys from across the country at a boarding school in Huntsville. The teens are ages 13 to 18 and the school helps them manage fear and social disorders.

The Ogden home would help the teens transition back to their homes. Eight boys would live at the 27th Street address at any given time with two adults supervising around the clock, but that doesn't comfort neighbor Tricia Taylor who has two young daughters.

"To bring eight kids who are inclined to have problems next door to my house increases my risk," Taylor said.

Neighbor Cheryl Robertson also expressed concern.

"This is my safe haven, this is where I come home to be safe and relax and not worry about anything and enjoy my home. I work hard, I'm mad, mad, mad."

In November, a WayPoint teen allegedly stole a van from the facility and left without permission. The academy's clinical director insists that's extremely rare and these teens aren't violent or in the program under court order.

"These are not the types of boys that are acting out in their community,” said Waypoint Academy Clinical Director Mike Bulloch. “They're good kids, going to school or at least trying to go to school, they have good intentions."

But residents are upset that they and Ogden city leaders had no say in the matter. Under federal law, the group home is categorized as a residential facility for the disabled, which is allowed in residential zoning.

"There's a federal Fair Housing Act and under the auspices of that and the state guidelines that go with that, group homes are allowed to move into neighborhoods," said Caitlin Gochnour, an Ogden City Council member

Gochnor also lives a few doors from the home and said she was surprised by the news but hopes it can be a "win-win" and bring the neighborhood closer.

"I'm hopeful,” Gochnor said. “I think they're gonna be good neighbors, they obviously know they're going to move into a neighborhood and they'll reach out.”

"It upsets me that she would say it's a win-win if my home is de-valuing, I can't resell my home and the children are unsafe in the neighborhood, I find it hard to believe that's a win-win for anyone involved," said neighbor Kort Robertson.

WayPoint Academy officials said the teens should start moving in by early June. Clinical Director Mike Bulloch said he's happy to talk with neighbors and offer a tour of his Huntsville facility. Bulloch also plans to be a part of a large community meeting with neighbors, city leaders, the police chief and mayor coming up at the end of May.

Meanwhile, while the Weber County Sheriff's Office confirms the stolen van report, Sgt. Lane Findlay said Waypoint has a clean well-run facility in Huntsville that has few calls involving the sheriff's office.