Wilsonville residents express concern over Breakaway Pointe transitional facility

Published 3:42 pm Friday, April 5, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor

WILSONVILLE – Wilsonville Town Hall was packed Monday, April 1 as residents gathered to voice their concerns over the proposed Breakaway Pointe facility which would be built where the Dixieland Tradin’ Post was formerly located.

During the meeting, the Wilsonville Town Council unanimously voted to share letters by Fire Chief Davy Edwards and Mayor Ricky Morris addressing safety concerns at the location which would fall under the jurisdiction of the Wilsonville Volunteer Fire Department.

Edwards listed the following safety concerns with the construction of a dormitory type facility at the parcel:

  • Occupancy class
  • Central station monitoring alarm system
  • Monitored sprinkler system
  • 24-hour supervision of these systems
  • Building codes for egress emergencies

“Additionally, a concentration of occupants who potentially experience drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, disability challenges and previous incarceration would have serious implications on our current manpower, training and available resources,” Edwards said in his letter.

Edwards recommended the mayor and Town Council forward the information to the town’s legal group, engineering group, Shelby County Development Services and the Shelby County Building inspector to oversee the life safety code guidelines and to represent these concerns of the Wilsonville Fire Department.

“It is my responsibility as the mayor of Wilsonville to ensure the safety of our fire department and citizens of the town of Wilsonville,” read Morris’ letter in response to Edwards. “In reading this letter from the fire chief, it has been made clear to me that a facility of this type would put undue burden on our fire department resources and in turn this could increase the safety risk to the citizens of Wilsonville.”

Morris also said in his letter that, based upon the information that this parcel is in Wilsonville’s fire coverage, he is in opposition to the construction of a transitional living facility for recently released convicted criminals given the burden it would bring upon the fire department and the public safety concerns of citizens.

Breakaway Pointe is a planned transitional facility in unincorporated Shelby County at 33985 Highway 25, Harpersville, Alabama 35078.

According to LifeLink’s website, the 27 acre facility would house approved CORE graduates who are released from prison and have earned the ability to enter LifeLink’s transitional process.

LifeLink’s CORE—community, opportunity, reformation and education—is the part of a three phase program that aims to provide a process for incarcerated offenders that aims to address “failed lifestyles that sent people to prison” and to “establish corrective behavioral practices that will keep people out of criminal activities.”

If developed, Breakaway Pointe in Shelby County would house CORE graduates under the supervision of the facility’s staff.

During the town of Wilsonville’s meeting, multiple residents voiced concerns over the proposed development, including Leigh Hunt whose place of residence directly neighbors the property.

“I have kids and there is simply a barbed wire fence between this facility and the possibility of this many violent criminals living next door to me and my kids and all of y’all,” Hunt said. “Everybody please speak up. Don’t let this be an issue that we sweep under the rug and let pass without doing anything about it. We have power to do something about this, we just have to use the power that we have.”

Hunt is working with other residents to protest the facility and created a website to provide information which can be found at Stopbreakawaypointe.com.

Another individual who spoke against the development of facility is Mark Boardman who serves as the lawyer for the city of Chelsea. Boardman attended the meeting on behalf of his church, Holy Trinity + Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral, which has a fellowship camp within the vicinity of the development.

“We put our fellowship camp across the street because it’s a rural area, free of the noise that heavy construction companies or heavy construction training would have across the street—free of the crowds that a 14 unit dormitory, 14 buildings of dormitories would have across the street,” Boardman said. “That’s what brought us here—the peace and tranquility of Shelby County.”

The town of Harpersville has also expressed concern over the development and the Town Council approved a resolution during its meeting on March 4.

Randy Walker, the owner of the property that is planned to be developed for Breakaway Pointe, has been reached out to for comment