Brentwood neighborhood upset over plans for Group Home

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BRENTWOOD, MO. (KPLR) - A charity that serves at-risk youth who want to go to college is facing a test of its own.  Boys Hope Girls Hope is trying to convince the Brentwood City Council to authorize construction of two group homes linked by an administrative center in the 88-hundred block of Madge Ave.

The two story project is planned for two lots just west of a Pasta House Pronto restaurant which fronts on Brentwood Blvd.  The organization would buy a one hundred year old home with a sinkhole problem in the back yard and the bungalow next door.

Critics in the neighborhood fear the project will overwhelm their smaller homes, bring too much traffic to their residential street and disturb the quiet nature of their community.

The executive director of Boys Hope Girls Hope of St. Louis Brian Hipp said Sunday the Brentwood Planning and Zoning Commission has given unanimous approval to the charity's project.  Six of eight council members in Brentwood must approve the zoning and planned development use for this to go forward.  A vote is scheduled for August 5 at 7pm during a special meeting of the Brentwood City Council.

The plan calls for two group homes serving ten boys and ten girls who want to complete their education but come from challenging circumstances.  The students must have no criminal record to participate.  If selected, the charity will pay for their education from middle school through college.  Some attend private high schools in the St. Louis area.

A challenging family setting, a dangerous neighborhood and lack of opportunities put them at risk of failing to reach their potential.  "Their parent or guardian also identifies this potential and sacrifices them to not live with them and instead come and live in our residential home which is almost like a boarding school," explained Hipp.

The students and their families visit regularly.  The plans call for 23 parking spaces on the west side of the building, a privacy fence and landscaping.  But some neighbors fear the agency will produce too much traffic and take up street parking neighbors need.

Hipp and board members along with some of the student scholars spent Sunday afternoon explaining their program to Brentwood residents.  Board Chairman Bernie Schweiss said the project plans were modified to make the building look more residential.  "We've taken one story out of the administrative wing and we've added gables and some hardy board residential treatments for the building," Schweiss noted.

The three million dollar project would consolidate current group homes in Kirkwood and Town and Country along with the Chesterfield administration headquarters on the one campus in Brentwood.

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