AUSTIN (KXAN) — “It’s going to cost $50,000 to move them 200 feet,” said Lisa Knapp, founder of Nicole’s Place. She’s referring to the cabins on the shelter’s property that house girls ages 11-17 who have escaped the clutches of sex trafficking organizations.
A nearby neighborhood architectural control committee sued Nicole’s Place for violating one of its restrictive covenants, according to Knapp. We aren’t disclosing the name of the committee, because we cannot disclose the location of Nicole’s Place for safety reasons. The committee’s attorney told KXAN Thursday the parties settled on this in January of 2021 and Nicole’s place was given 15 months at that point to move the buildings off of the restricted 5 acres of the property.
According to Terry Irion, the attorney representing Nicole’s Place, the neighborhood architectural control committee stated you can only have one building on each property.
“We thought we were on unrestricted ground, but the title company made a mistake,” said Knapp, who added this resulted in the two Nicole’s Place cabins spilling over onto some of the committee’s property — therefore prompting the violation and the lawsuit.
“Nonprofits can’t afford to be sued,” she said, stating that all of the money used in the lawsuit was from personal funds, not from donations made to Nicole’s Place.
She said she was forced to settle, and the settlement involves moving the cabins further back onto the Nicole’s Place property, so it’s officially off any committee’s land.
“That’s 200 feet, 200 feet,” Knapp said. “That is taking the money away from kids and taking a home away from kids for two months.”
She said the girls had to be relocated until the move was complete, which should take about 60 days total. This happened just weeks before another shelter, The Refuge, had to temporarily close following allegations of abuse by staff members. Knapp said Nicole’s Place would have had room for the girls who were taken from The Refuge during that process.
“These are severely abused children that need peace and quiet and healing,” said Knapp.
The lawsuit alleges Nicole’s Place knew about the rules and built anyway.