Weeping Time Coalition trying to halt Savannah homeless shelter development in court

Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 3:19 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A local group against building a homeless shelter on what they believe is the historic Weeping Time property will go back in front of a Chatham County judge to plead their case.

The “Weeping Time Coalition,” represented by Attorney Kevin Gough, says right now their goal is to temporarily stop the project. Late last year, the coalition unveiled its lawsuit against the city of Savannah. Coalition leaders say they went before a Chatham County superior court judge Friday, and that she told both sides to come back with more specific requests. They say the judge asked them to specifically show her that they have legal grounds for their request. They say they have until March 11 to do that.

The court was closed Monday, and the city told WTOC they don’t comment on pending lawsuits.

Our Investigative Team was the first to tell you about the Salvation Army’s efforts to build a Homeless Shelter on the land off Augusta Avenue. Some neighbors formed the ‘Weeping Time Coalition.’ They claim it’s the site of the 1859 slave auction.

In response, the city of Savannah paid for an archeological survey. That survey found the auction happened just south of there. Savannah’s City Council then approved the Salvation Army’s plan and the coalition sued the city.

Coalition leader Rev. Leonard Small tells WTOC the central request in the lawsuit is for the city to send the results of the archeological survey to Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division for review. As WTOC previously reported, city records show the city instead - at the request of the Historic Preservation Division - sent the results of the survey to Georgia’s Office of the State Archeologist. Deputy State Archaeologist Rachel Black deemed the land to not be connected to the site of the Weeping Time slave auction.

The Salvation Army owns the land in question, and has full approval by the City of Savannah to build a homeless shelter there. In a statement Monday, Major Paul Egan with the Salvation Army weighed in on this recent development on the coalition’s lawsuit against the city.

“The Salvation Army of Savannah (TSA) received a special use permit from Savannah City Council in April 2021 to build a much needed facility for the homeless on Augusta Road in West Savannah on land purchased by our organization from the Housing Authority of Savannah. Sometimes, it can take a while for the legal system to resolve everything. We look forward to being able to build a place that will provide food, shelter, love, and hope to the most vulnerable of our day.”

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