WISE COUNTY, Va. —An East Stone Gap community is concerned after learning a sanctuary for people with a sex offense conviction in their past might be intentionally relocated to their neighborhood.
Residents of the Inby Lane Mobile Home Park received this letter from their landlord.
Longtime resident Vernon Porch Jr. has an eight-year-old daughter. Porch says he plans to leave the mobile home park.
“Most of the time we have eight kids here just playing at my house and we can’t live here anymore if it’s going to be like this,” Porch said.
According to Virginia state law, people on the registry must live more than 500 feet from a church, school or daycare.
East Stone Gap Baptist Church is about 1,000 feet away from the mobile home park. Head pastor Lonnie Brooks says that’s still too close for his own comfort.
“I know the state police came and measured all of that to check that they were within those boundaries,” Brooks said. “But it still seems very close.”
Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp says he’s also concerned about the safety of the East Stone Gap community.
“Obviously we’re looking at it from every angle to determine what law enforcement or our county can do,” Slemp said. “We’re ready to step up enforcement and step up additional patrols. We’ll do whatever we need to do for the safety of the community and residents in that community.”
We reached out to Inby Home Trailer Park LLC for comment and have not yet received a response.
A public meeting about the proposed sanctuary is scheduled to take place on July 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Taylor-Lewis Baptist Community Center.