CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — A Cherokee County nonprofit in the business of helping men battle addiction is now in a battle to stay open.
Vision Warriors purchased the property in 2017, flipping what was once used as temporary housing for missionaries through a church to a faith-based addiction recovery center for men. Cherokee County commissioners allowed the organization to operate but are now revoking its zoning approval.
Kirk Driscoll said his vision for the property was clear: he was going to run it as a space for men in active recovery from drugs and alcohol. He said he told the county what he was doing every step of the way.
He received proper documentation from the county, including zoning and occupancy certificates needed to run the program. Months later, Driscoll said the county is revoking the license and he thinks it's because the neighbors complained and have been vocal about not wanting the facility on their street.
Brayden Ragsdale is one of 25 men who live on the property. They have to take regular drug and alcohol tests to prove their clean.
"Coming in the doors, I didn't have anything to offer anybody, so what I needed was a solution to stop using drugs and alcohol," he said. Now, two years sober, he credits Vision Warriors for his life's new direction.
"It saved my life, it helped built it up to a certain point, and now it gives it purpose," Ragsdale said.
Purpose, Driscoll said, that's realized through the work at the facility.
"Everyone wants us to help, just not in their backyard," Driscoll said. "We did everything we could possibly do as a property owner, we got the approval and then it was stolen."
He still has the zoning certificate that was revoked after the facility was already operating. The county said the zoning certificate should have never been approved in the first place. A spokesperson said a previous zoning administrator incorrectly gave Vision Warriors permission to operate there.
Driscoll said the county should do the right thing and honor the original agreement.
A legal nonprofit helped him take their battle to the courts, raising the issue at the federal level arguing it was discrimination. However, the judge sided with the county and ruled it had the right to revoke the zoning approval.
"It's shameful that not a county commissioner in this county has stepped foot on this property to see what we are doing, yet they will rule from a bench and never visit this property," Driscoll said.
Driscoll and his legal team have appealed the judge's decision. He, along with the men with Vision Works are waiting for a hearing in the appellate court, but said they want to take this all the way to the top.