Livingston store owners and neighbors are resisting the prospect of an assisted living facility in the area.
Billed as the “Town of Livingston,” Livingston is an unincorporated community located in Madison County near Flora. There are restaurants and commercial facilities scattered around the area.
More than just its homes, Livingston is known for its rich entertainment scene, with frequent music festivals, farmers markets, and weddings.
Charge nurse Chad Phillips and his wife Crystal Phillips, a real estate agent, want to add something different to the Livingston area. It's an assisted living facility called The Oaks.
Oakes' proposal includes a 15-bed facility, which would include patients who are unable to support themselves. The staff will include a trained nurse, and the caregiver to resident ratio will be 5:1.
On October 19, 2023, the Madison County Planning Commission recommended that the Madison County Board of Supervisors approve the application.
A group of Livingston property owners then sought to appeal the recommendation.
Thursday's board meeting held a public hearing in which the appellants, represented by Flowood attorney Kevin Watson, and the Phillips family, represented by Jackson attorney Steve Smith, presented their arguments.
Appellants also included the Graves family, the former owners of the property now owned by the Phillips family off Highway 22.
The hearing lasted more than two and a half hours. Several Livingston business owners and neighbors spoke out against the facility. Their main concern was that the facility did not fit into Livingston's established character.
Munsdale-Livingstone Heritage Preservation Committee chair Rita McGuffie said the Phillips' proposal had several incomplete items, including a “lack of landscape and elevation information”.
McGuffey said there were several other incomplete items, but he could not provide a final list as of Thursday's meeting.
Bridget Ingle owns Farmer's Table Cooking School in Livingston, the second building built in the area about 10 years ago. She expressed concern that Oaks residents might not like the loud music coming from Livingston, where late-night outdoor concerts are often held.
Ms. Engle also said she was concerned that ambulances would frequently come to her business because residents need assisted living.
Engle said he expects the board to take Livingston business owners into account.
“There have already been some changes made,” Engle said. “I just hope and hope that all of you, who have literally put everything into it, will help us maintain what we started.
“We have kids running from the candy store to the park, which is where the outcasts come from. We don't have to worry about the community we've worked so hard for anymore. “
Greta Mills, a member of the Graves family, sold the land currently owned by the Phillips family in 2007, but it had changed hands once before the Phillips family bought it. At Thursday's meeting, Mills presented a petition to the board, which she said had more than 400 signatures from people in the surrounding area who oppose the proposed assisted living facility. .
Board President Gerald Steen called on citizens who supported the facility to come forward and speak, but no one approached the podium. After the meeting, Chad Phillips had several friends and family members present to show his support, but he told them that the issue seemed black and white to him. He said he did not ask for a prepared statement.
From a legal perspective, Watson's main argument in rejecting the proposal for a new facility is that, based on the terms the Graves established at the time of the land sale, all uses and improvements to the land for 50 years after the sale must meet statutory standards. It was something that had to be met. MLHPC standards. Mr Watson said Oakes did not meet those standards.
Smith said the facility meets these standards. Smith said The Oaks is a semi-public facility that is permitted in all zoning districts. He also said the proposed building would be 2.5 soccer field minutes away from other buildings in Livingston.
After a lengthy exchange between the two attorneys, Chad Phillips approached the podium to answer the board's questions. Mr Phillips gave an emotional speech in which he said he did not understand the controversy surrounding his application.
“I'm from Madison. I grew up here. I love this area. Madison County is special to me in many ways,” Phillips said. “All I want is to be a great addition to our community and respond to the needs of our community…I don't think caring for the elderly, the elderly with disabilities, is so controversial. Since when did it become a “I love this so much that it breaks my heart'' community. “
Phillips appeared to win over some board members with his speech, with District 5 Superintendent Paul Griffin saying the matter would have been resolved sooner if Phillips had initiated a heart-to-heart discussion. .
Still, board members did not immediately accept the application. The hearing concluded with Mr. Steen requesting that the MLHPC reconsider its investigation to provide a clear argument as to why the Oaks violates the character of the Livingston neighborhood.
After the meeting, Phillips said that after 10 years of caring for elderly people who needed assisted living in hospitals and intensive care units, he now felt God was calling him to build The Oaks. Ta.
“We believe they are entitled to a great quality of life being close to their loved ones and family because that is what gives them the most joy,” he said.
Phillips said the Oaks would not destroy Livingston's character and, in fact, residents would see the concerts and restaurants as “a welcome attraction rather than a nuisance.”
Ms. Phillips grew up in Madison and graduated from Madison Central in 2009. He and Crystal and his two children moved back here from New Orleans to start this facility.
Phillips' parents, Linda and Mike Phillips, were seated in the back row of Thursday's rally. While Chad was addressing the board, Linda began crying.
When asked why she was so emotional, Linda said she had never been more proud of her son. She said she was disappointed by the backlash from her appellants.
“God brought him home to make Madison a better place and they are rejecting him,” she said.
Mike has been a pharmacist for 54 years and said he understands the need for a facility like Oakes because he sees patients “from start to finish.”
“Right now, there are 15 families somewhere out there that need this facility open,” he said.
Crystal said despite Thursday's controversy, she and her husband are confident the board will approve their application.
It is unclear whether the board will vote on the application at its next meeting on Feb. 5, but LMHPS plans to submit a new argument on the same day.