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Marietta Set To Vote On Proposed Immigrant Shelter For Kids

The vacant building at 119 Powers Ferry Road was approved to become a shelter for immigrant children in late October.
The vacant building at 119 Powers Ferry Road was approved to become a shelter for immigrant children in late October.
Credit Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Wednesday, the Marietta City Council is set to decide the fate of proposed shelter for immigrant children. The building would temporarily house children detained at the Southern border. 

The vacant building at 119 Powers Ferry Road was approved to become a shelter in late October. But some in Marietta appealed that zoning decision.

 “We don’t want to bring the entire debate of immigration into the workings of Marietta,” retired resident Art Wickman said. “We have plenty of issues to work on here locally.”

He said the proposed shelter would bring intense scrutiny to the metro Atlanta city.

“Is this something Marietta really wants to be involved with?” Wickman said.

Some residents said the location of the proposed shelter is not a case of ‘not in my backyard.’ They question the need for the facilities.

“This is part of the larger national picture of anti-immigrant practices,” Atlanta resident Helen Hobson said.

Wickman and Hobson, members of the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Marietta, both signed a letter appealing the zoning measure.

Mitch Bryant, pastor at Atlanta Pavilion Fellowship Church in Stone Mountain, got the go-ahead for the building to be zoned as a shelter.

Bryant acknowledged he doesn’t have experience working with this population. He’s pursuing a federal grant to hire about 30 professionals to run the facility.

Bryant said he was motivated to run a shelter after seeing images of how immigrant children were treated at the border. He later found out that the federal government was in need of additional shelters.

“If they’re [children] going to be here, what are we going to do about it,” Bryant said.

Bryant wishes that some who appealed the zoning decision would have offered to volunteer at the proposed shelter instead.

“This is an opportunity to do some good,” he said.

The proposed shelter would house around 50 children. The City Council is set to vote today on whether to allow a shelter near a residential area.