Harper’s Home is on the search for a new house

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:24 PM EST
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TAZEWELL, Va. (WVVA) - In August of last year WVVA brought to you the story of Harper’s Home- a place ran to be ran by the Child Abuse Reporting and Enforcement Center of Southwest Virginia or the C.A.R.E Center. It was to be Tazewell County’s first foster care home located at 1138 Fincastle Turnpike.

“Ultimately after negotiations started we knew that we would have to go in a different direction. And it was nothing that left hard feelings. It was just the better decision to be made by the CARE center board,” said the C.A.R.E Center lawyer, Aaron Gillespie.

We then asked the CARE center Executive Director April Morefield if she thought it was misleading to the public to keep 1138 Fincastle as the cover photo for the Harper’s Home Facebook page.

“I think at this point we want to make sure that we find the best most appropriate location that God wants us to be in. And until that time is there we want to be aware of the fact of what we put out there is needs to be where we’re actually going to be,” said Morefield.

Following no longer working with 1138 Fincastle The center set their prospects down the street at another home--located a 751 Fincastle Turnpike. The house’s owner then petitioned the Town of Tazewell to change the zoning of the new location to include a children’s residential facility.

“I went to two planning commission meetings and two town council meetings. At each of those meetings everything for Harper’s Home was passed unanimously until we had the public hearing,” said Morefield.

A public hearing was held on January 10th. Six people who live near the new proposed site voiced opposition at the meeting. Including Alice Wallwork who owns the home next door.

“We raised a lot of safety concerns. If children are in the backyard and the parents who they were taken away from could see them and know where they are.” Wallwork said.

Other concerns raised by neighbors included the structural safety of the home.

They were also worried about how the zoning could impact the neighborhood’s potential to become a historic district.

On Tuesday, the CARE Center formally rescinded their intentions to re-zone the home with the town council. Moorefield tells WVVA that the center also may be restructuring what exactly the property they end up purchasing may become. Adding that she now expects a property large enough to hold a satellite office for the Richlands’ CARE Center as well as Harper’s Home.

“We do want more information about the location and the people that would be impacted. Exactly how would it be used with CPS and DSS? I would love to hear from CPS and DSS,” said Tazewell Town Council and Planning Commission member Emily Davis.

WVVA will continue to follow this story.