Hearing on former Children’s Home set for May 16 Planning Commission meeting

Published 3:11 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

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NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on May 16 to gather input from citizens on a request for a special exception to re-establish the use of the building at 806 N. Union St. as a children’s home.

The building served as an orphanage from its founding in 1816 until it stopped housing children in 2009, when the focus shifted from housing children at the Natchez Children’s Home to placing them in foster homes.

The building is now owned by New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, which at one time planned to use the facility as a school. The church has requested the special exception through its attorney, Charles F. Stewart Sr. of The Cochran Law Firm located in the Jackson area.

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Bishop Stanley Searcy said as a representative of the church, he requested the hearing “just to see what is going on. It has always been a children’s home. Since before the Civil War, it has been a children’s home. We have Dr. (Tina) Bruce there just waiting to find out what’s going on.”

While the building is listed for sale by Brittney West Patten of BW Realty, Bruce leased the building from the church and used it as a crisis stabilization unit for troubled children beginning in January 2023. However, neighbors questioned whether the business operated by Dr. Bruce went through the proper approval process.

Frankie Legaux, city planner, said Bruce never applied for a special exception to operate her facility, and it closed.

“The former children’s home is located in an R-3 Historic District and what Dr. Bruce was operating there is not allowed in that zoning district,” Legaux said.

The Planning Commission meeting begins at 5:15 p.m. on May 16 at the Council Chambers, 115 S. Pearl St., across from City Hall.