Hallsville man one step closer to building 'sanctuary' for veterans

Saturday, January 3, 2009 | 7:47 p.m. CST; updated 8:38 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 3, 2009

COLUMBIA — A Hallsville man starts the New Year one step closer to his dream of building a mobile home sanctuary in northern Boone County for veterans who are homeless or have disabilities.

In a rare overruling of a Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation, Boone County commissioners on Tuesday approved Marine veteran David Sallee’s request to rezone his property from from A-2, agriculture, to R-S, single-family residential.

The ruling only partially ends months of wrangling between Sallee and Boone County officials, and he now must apply for conditional-use permits from the Planning and Zoning Commission before placing seven new three-bedroom mobile homes on a 5-acre tract off Hecht Road, just south of Hallsville. February will be the earliest he can expect his applications to be approved.

The property, formerly Miller Trailer Park, has operated as a mobile home park since the late 1960s. Sallee and commissioners agreed that the property was in bad shape before he bought it and removed decrepit trailers. Ironically, if he had not cleaned up the property, and instead chosen to simply replace trailers one by one, it would have been “grandfathered” in under zoning regulations.

Boone County Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin cited this loophole as a reason for his decision.

“I believe that it should have been grandfathered in. It has, in my opinion, been a mobile home park for 40 years,” Elkin said. “All he wants to do is legitimize a mobile home park that’s been there for years.”

Elkin, who also served in the Marine Corps, helped Sallee through the rezoning process but said he did not give him any special treatment.

“We treated him the same as anyone else. We will continue to work with anyone who wants to rezone their property,” Elkin said.

Sallee said in a Nov. 7 Missourian article that he eventually came to terms with his post-traumatic stress disorder by "self-medicating" away from "polite society." Sallee explained that many of his "contemporaries" find society intimidating and are unwilling to accept traditional treatment or housing offered by  Veterans Affairs.

He said approval of his rezoning request brought him closer to helping other veterans who have withdrawn from society and are struggling in ways he once did.

“I’m continuing my efforts on behalf of my contemporaries, on behalf of my men,” Sallee said.


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