Log in Newsletter


Bill Kirby Jr.: Residents near proposed halfway house consider options

The Raleigh lawyer fighting for the residents says it will be an uphill battle.


These are just plain, everyday people.  

Just simple folks who want to go about the quiet and peaceful lives in neighborhoods off Bragg Boulevard to include Greenwood Homes, Scotty Hills, Forest Hills and Eutaw Heights, the subdivisions near Cain Road.  

“I really respect and admire the courage you have,” Ben Kuhn, a Raleigh lawyer, was telling about 60 of the collective subdivision residents who gathered Tuesday night at the Honeycutt Recreation Center in something of a Hail Mary attempt to thwart a proposed 100-bed halfway house for federal offenders on Cain Road.  

Dismas Charities has applied for a special-use permit for the halfway house to transition late-stage inmates back into life, and where they can pursue jobs and rehabilitation in fulfilling court sentences. The Fayetteville City Council voted 5-4 in February 2020 to deny the permit. The case then went to Cumberland County Superior Court, where former Judge Mary Ann Tally on Aug. 3, 2020, ruled in favor of the council’s decision. The N.C. Court of Appeals earlier this month rejected that ruling and says the City Council now must rule in favor of Dismas Charities. The nonprofit has met its “burden of production” for the special-use permit.  

Let’s cut to the chase.  

The halfway house is all but a go, worried and upset residents be damned. 

$55,000 in legal fees so far 

Rafael Rivera and George Turner have been the voices of the neighborhoods in opposition to the halfway house, and they called for Tuesday’s meeting of residents to figure out their next move. 

“This has been a team effort with everybody working together,” Rivera was telling residents.

Rivera says the residents have spent about $55,000 in legal fees.

Now, should Kuhn try to take the case back to the N.C. Supreme Court, residents will need more money for what Kuhn describes as a PDR or a Petition for Discretionary Review.  

Turner asked the lawyer how much it would cost residents.  

“Probably $10,000,” Kuhn said, “just to see if they take your case.” 

Turner looked into the faces of residents.  

“How much of a check are you going to write tonight?” he asked. 

You didn’t see many hands waving. But keep in mind these are just plain and simple folks and you can only stretch a dollar so far, particularly in these days of financial inflation. 

But that’s about what it will take, Kuhn said, and there are no assurances even then. After all, three appellate court justices ruled in favor of Dismas Charities, and the City Council has to grant a special-use permit.  

Turner had another question.  

“If it is built and we begin to have trouble,” he asked Kuhn, “what can we do?” 

The lawyer had a quick response. 

“I recommend you do something before it is built,” Kuhn said. 

‘They railroaded us’ 

For residents, this halfway house has been an exercise in concern and frustration, notably now that N.C. Court of Appeals justices Chris Dillon, April Wood and Allegra Collins have reversed the Aug. 3, 2020, decision by Tally.  

There are schools in short distance,’’ Dawn Atkins Hurley said. “Schools, churches. All of this was ignored. They railroaded it.” 

This, another resident said, is about public safety in neighborhoods.  

Residents had support from City Councilman D.J. Haire. And from former City Councilwoman Tisha Waddell, who alleged in her Nov. 9 council resignation that there were some suspect dealings in the halfway house case.  

“You all know me,” Waddell said. “You all have similar concerns as me. You are concerned about the process and how we got here. At this point, the best thing you can do for your community and city is remain engaged.” 

Ultimately, Greenwood Homes, Scotty Hills, Forest Hills, Eutaw Heights and Cain Road residents will have to decide if they want Kuhn to continue their fight. 

“It will be an uphill battle,” he told residents. 


There was much legal jargon Tuesday night when I finally asked Kuhn two simple questions.

I asked if a halfway house would harm residential property values. He couldn’t say for sure and suggested an appraiser would be better qualified to provide an answer. I asked if a halfway house could jeopardize safety in neighborhoods. He couldn’t say.  

I left with a conclusion of my own.

If a halfway house is such a good idea and so esthetically pleasing and good for Greenwood Homes, Scotty Hills, Forest Hills and Eutaw Heights residents, as some proponents suggest, why not build the Dismas Charities halfway house for federal inmates in their backyard, and let’s see how they like it.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.   

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Dismas Charities, halfway house, Cain Road, Fayetteville, City Council, appeal, special-use permit