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Bethany Christian Services wants to use former nursing home in Alma, MI to house migrant youth

the michigan masonic home in alma, michigan, a former nursing home
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Grand Rapids-based Bethany Christian Services is hoping to use a former nursing home in Alma, Michigan to house migrant children who were unaccompanied at the southern U.S. border.

The building Bethany would use to house the children is owned by Michigan Masonic Homes. The property would need to undergo conditional rezoning in order for Bethany to use it.

The city of Alma is still in the process of reviewing Bethany and Michigan Masonic Homes' request and proposal. It has scheduled a public comment hearing for July 12.

Aeric Ripley is Alma's assistant city manager and is heavily involved in the conditional rezoning process. He said the city is providing people with information about that process, but can't give them information about Bethany's proposed program.

"That's for Masonic and Bethany to say, 'here's what we're trying to do, here's our program, here's how we deal with all these concerns or questions, (these are) our policies, procedures.' We can't speak to those, those are something that the requestor and then the end user need to answer," said Ripley.

Ripley said he and other city officials have already received a lot of feedback and questions from Alma residents about Bethany's proposal.

"It's definitely an issue that everybody is concerned with, whatever side you're on. I think it will continue to be that way up until the public hearing and until a decision is made," Ripley said.

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