A request to operate a 10-person behavioral health facility within a Paradise Valley neighborhood has been withdrawn by the applicant, documents show.
Applicant Blu Mitchell sought approval of a reasonable accommodation to zoning and land-use regulations from town officials to operate a behavioral health group home for up to 10 persons and up to six staff at 5117 E. Mountain View Road. His plans included housing disabled veterans, people recovering from substance abuse and young adults aging out of foster care.
Mr. Mitchell filed his application for “Blu Manor” with the town June 1. The Paradise Valley home was donated to Mr. Mitchell by owner Dr. Veneda T. Polite, a retired U.S. Army commander, documents show.
Pursuant to federal law, a request for a reasonable accommodation may be made by any person with a disability, their representative, or a developer or provider for housing for individuals with a disability in order to provide disabled individuals with an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
Mr. Mitchell informed the town and the hearing officer on Aug. 8 he would be withdrawing his application, followed by a letter confirming the decision.
Mr. Mitchell says Sigma College University Trade Schools — the 501(c)(3) entity behind the home — has decided not to move forward with the application process.
“A lot of community members were strongly against us putting our community there,” Mr. Mitchell explained.
“It was a lot of pre-judgment and a lot of hate coming from that community. Our individuals are already going through some things, and we really didn’t want to have to put our community members that are trying to basically go to school and get off the Medicaid system be ridiculed by the community that they’re living in.”
Mr. Mitchell points out that the location was chosen because the home was donated to the effort.
“That’s the only reason why we chose to apply. So now we’re looking for different locations to house our community members,” he said.
Mr. Mitchell says he was disappointed in the reaction from the community, explaining tactics digging into his background were used to discredit him.
“I have felonies in my background --- so what?” he said.
“I paid my debt to society and I’m a very independent, strong, African American influencer to be able to help other individuals who have similar backgrounds, or don’t even have a background at all. Being an African American male, I already have a hard enough time proving myself. Honestly, I’m so upset because it became a personal attack against me, personally, not my organization and what it does.”
A Phoenix Police Department website, icrimewatch.net, shows Mr. Mitchell was charged in California with unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and in Arizona, he was charged for failing to register as a sex offender.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety website lists Mr. Mitchell, whose legal name is Willie, as a level 2 sex offender, which means the notification must be disseminated in a nonelectronic format to the surrounding neighborhood, area schools, appropriate community groups and prospective employers. The notification must include the offender’s photograph and exact address and a summary of the offender’s status and criminal background.
“I am a very good person, so I disclose all of my background to people I do partnerships with — so everyone knew about it, but still. My business, literally, and me personally, have nothing to do with what was coming — or should have been coming to the community,” he said.
Mr. Mitchell explains the apprentice program for people in need provides no-cost shared housing, food and meals, and medical services.
“The program is geared to give residents employment apprenticeship training and paid apprenticeship placement within six months of our program. We give residents the opportunity to succeed in their desired field of passion without being held back by debt and financial roadblocks,” Mr. Mitchell says of Blu Manor.
Mr. Mitchell is president and founder of Sigma College University Trade Schools, known as Sigma CUTS, a private occupational training organization.
Those living in Blu Manor would learn a new trade at the school in an effort to become self-sustaining members of society, a press release sent to Independent Newsmedia in June outlined the project.
The reasonable accommodation request is needed because the town of Paradise Valley has adopted procedures and standards for granting accommodations to its zoning and land-use regulations, policies and practices when needed to provide an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to enjoy a property.
According to the town’s website, the accommodation may be granted when it does not “cause an undue financial or administrative burden, or does not result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the Town’s zoning program.”