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February 15, 2013

Decision coming soon on Jacob’s Well

Legal battle over ‘house of hope’ continues for nonprofit, Utica residents



It was the plan for women to live at Jacob’s Well that stirred controversy amongst its neighbors. 

“I would have been OK with it if they had kept it the original thing they were wanting to do, just as an educational center,” said Kenny Morrison, another neighbor of Jacob’s Well. “If New Albany didn’t want them, why should we have to have them?”

Concerns were offered about who would be living at the facility. A letter from Morrison to the News and Tribune claims Jacob’s Well would be housing battered women coming from prison, among other places.

“The biggest issue is ... if these women and their children are living in this facility, who’s not to say their boyfriend or husband or person that battered and beat that person ... is going to be coming up here?” Scott Sandefur asked. “It just doesn’t make sense for this to be here.”

Jacob’s Well Attorney David Lewis said rumors that the tenants will be former criminals, drug addicts and that the site will serve as a halfway house were hearsay and simply not true during the court hearing Monday.

The Williars also disputed the claim.

“Jacob’s Well is not a drug or alcohol rehab center, a halfway house, homeless shelter or crisis center for women fleeing abusive relationships,” they wrote.

The program at Jacob’s Well is a two-year program designed to help single women 18-years-old and older. Participants will be screened through an extensive application and referral process and the program includes an on-site life coach and family advocate, who will provide guidance with life choices and for setting educational and career opportunity goals, according to the Williars.



The lawsuit filed by those living nearby Jacob’s Well, as well as the Old Utica Preservation Inc. group, argues that the nonprofit group would be breaking a deed restriction by housing people at the site.

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