Monday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission had a simple message for the Zoning Board of Appeals: don't to allow a rehab center at 171 Rope Ferry Road.
Monday, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended Waterford’s Zoning Board of Appeals deny a request by the Stonington Institute to turn 171 Rope Ferry Road – currently a 77-room vacant nursing home - into temporary housing for up to 144 men recovering from drug addiction. The Stonington Institute is asking for a use variance at the property to allow it to house all of its patients in one spot.
“Under its planning function as a Planning and Zoning Commission, the Commission does not recommend that a use variance be granted in this instance, as the proposal does not meet the criteria to justify a change of use for the parcel,” the recommendation read. “The Commission recommends that the owner/applicant continue to pursue all viable options for the property under the current zoning uses and specially permitted uses allowed within the R-40 Zone.”
The Zoning Board of Appeals will make its own decision on the proposal Thursday night, but the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation will be entered into the record. The Stonington Institute, a for-profit organization that aims to cure people suffering from drug addiction, is requesting a use variance to allow it to turn 171 Rope Ferry Road into temporary housing for up to 144 men fighting substance abuse.
“Under the Federal (Fair Housing Act), this proposed facility lacks therapeutic care, has a transient boarding house use (30-day stay limit), will create additional security and police expense to the Town, will not benefit from being in the primary single family zone and is not a reasonable accommodation in the zone,” the recommendation read.
Dozens of neighbors of 171 Rope Ferry Road have opposed the proposal, saying it doesn’t fit into a residential neighborhood filled with young children. They argued men who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are prone to crime and said the proposal would decrease the overall safety of the area. According to the proposal, the men would be at the facility voluntarily and could leave whenever they wanted to.
The Zoning Board of Appeals meets on Thursday at 6:30 in Town Hall and is expected to rule on the application.
The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended rejecting the proposal. But if the Zoning Board of Appeals were to approve the application, the commission recommended these conditions (taken straight from the report):
- Establish the use in the phases based on the number of beds. Require any expansion into subsequent phases come back to the ZBA for review and approval.
- House manager, 24/7 security, full-time director of security
- No personal vehicles for clients
- 1:10 ratio of staff to client
- Lights out at 11 p.m. and all exit doors (egress) be alarmed
- 30-minute bed checks
- Review of existing lighting and impact off site
- Limitations on time of deliveries to kitchen due to this occurring off Spithead Road
- Screening and fencing of adjacent properties
- Pickup and delivery on site, not on Rope Ferry Road
- On-site surveillance
For more information about the Stonington Institute’s proposal, click here. For more about the arguments for and against the proposal, click here.