ALMA, Mich. (AP) — The planning commission in a central Michigan community opposes a zoning change that would turn a former nursing home into temporary housing for boys who cross the U.S. border without parents.

Commissioners in Alma recommended 4-2, that the request be denied Wednesday, Aug. 4, following weeks of tension in the community and a public hearing that attracted hundreds of people. The Alma City Commission will make the final decision.

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“I do not feel comfortable with granting this proposal, nor do I see any benefit to the health, safety, welfare, or convenience to our citizens of Alma,” said City Manager Matt Schooley.

Bethany Christian Services wants to lease Warwick Living Center to provide housing for boys for up to 40 days or until a sponsor can be found. The boys, ages 12 to 17, crossed the southern U.S. border without parents or guardians and do not have legal status in this country.

Nancy O’Brien, a teacher for nearly 40 years, said the planning commission was acting on fear, Michigan Radio reported.

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“It gets me emotional,” she said. “I would want someone to take care of my children if, God forbid, a war broke out or anything like that happened to my family.”

There were cheers and applause after the planning commission voted.

“There’s too much at risk of enabling human trafficking. … The best way to help them is to send them back to their country of origin, with their family,” Robi Rodriguez said.

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