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Catoosa County residents gather at Ringgold United Methodist Church at the first of three town hall meetings hosted by Healthy Foundations about a proposed mental health facility in Tunnel Hill, Georgia. / Staff photo by Patrick Filbin

This story was updated Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. with more information.

Healthy Foundations, a new nonprofit organization based in North Georgia, has withdrawn its application for a Special Use Permit to build a $50 million addiction and comprehensive counseling facility in Catoosa County.

DeLaine Hunter, the CEO and president of Healthy Foundations, said she and the organization are "regrouping" after holding two tense town hall meetings that involved a lot of backlash from Catoosa residents.

James Davis, director of planning and inspections for the county, said the application was withdrawn at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Now, if Healthy Foundations wants to build the facility on the same property, the earliest it could apply again would be in six months.

Healthy Foundations was trying to buy 200 acres in Catoosa County to build a campus that would have included counseling rooms, medical and dental care offices, housing, classrooms, a chapel, a daycare center, a clothing boutique, an industrial kitchen and other amenities.

Nearby residents worried the location of the proposed facility was too close to Tiger Creek Elementary School in Tunnel Hill, Georgia, and they would prefer it be built in a more industrial area.

Others were cpfilbin@timesfreepress.comompletely against the idea, and several times the first meeting got out of hand with shouting and clapping.

Hunter said Thursday that after scheduling the town hall meetings and hearing feedback from residents, the organization's board of directors decided to cancel a third meeting to focus on an easement issue that had come up.

She also said that the backlash from Catoosa County residents was a lot to handle.

"They were brutal," she said. "But we do have a lot of community support. We're not stopping. We're just regrouping."

Hunter said questions raised during the town hall meetings by concerned residents were reasons for the group to take a step back and reevaluate the project. Some of those included water and sewer hookups as well as easement lines and property lines.

Hunter said everyone who was on board with the project before the town hall meetings is still behind it, and there are more people out there who support the idea than oppose it.

"We just want to make sure that we have the answers to some of the big questions and make sure everything is on order before we go in front [of the planning commission]," she said.

Healthy Foundations still plans on building in Catoosa County. If that doesn't work out, Hunter said, supporters would have to look elsewhere in the judicial district that she and the organization hope to serve, which includes Catoosa, Walker, Dade and Chattooga counties.

"I think when people realize and learn what we are, people will start to come around," Hunter said.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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