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Waterford P&Z Commission Urges Denial of Proposed Rehab Center

Waterford’s Planning and Zoning Commission is asking the Zoning Board of Appeals to deny a proposal by the Stonington Institute to turn 171 Rope Ferry Road into temporary housing for up to 144 men recovering from substance abuse.

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.

Recommendations

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):

  1. 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.
  2. House manager, 24/7 security, full-time director of security
  3. No personal vehicles for clients
  4. 1:10 ratio of staff to client
  5. Lights out at 11 p.m. and all exit doors (egress) be alarmed
  6. 30-minute bed checks
  7. Review of existing lighting and impact off site
  8. Limitations on time of deliveries to kitchen due to this occurring off Spithead Road
  9. Screening and fencing of adjacent properties
  10. Pickup and delivery on site, not on Rope Ferry Road
  11. 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.

Jenelle February 06, 2013 at 03:00 PM
63 Rock Ridge Road sold recently (Manitock Hill) -- I heard a drug rehab place may be going in there. It's a huge wooded area (big, crumbling house on over twenty acres of land; a lot of hunting goes on up there). Patch -- could you please check? thanks !
Peter Volkmar February 07, 2013 at 06:11 PM
I feel the ZBA has the right idea for this place. I see it as more tax revenue for Waterford. It is a quiet rehab site. The folks that were there before were quiet. Substance abuse rehab places are not high traffic areas, and The Stonington Institute is not some fly by night operation. It cost big bucks to get into there facility. I have never heard the folks out on rte 2 complaining, I have only heard of the contractors that work them say they pay there bills. In this day and age where towns scramble to keep businesses in town, we can't be that picky with who is willing to pay for a property and operate a legitimate business. The folks who live nearby had a rehab facility before with traffic and trucks and personel before, I don't think much will be different.
Hillaryken February 09, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Reject Hillaryken 10:06 am on Saturday, February 9, 2013 I'm confused. When did these struggling addicts become sex offenders? I may be wrong but I thought they voluntarily checked in for treatment. The argument it's across the street from that particular church has no merit given the recent events that transpired there. This is why we have mentally ill people, recovering addicts, and even veterans "roaming our streets" because no one wants them in their neighborhood! What are the crime statistics in relation to Stonington Institutes other locations? Can it be proved that property values will be lowered by such a facility? Do all of you educated citizens think in the 40 yrs the structure operated as a nursing home no crimes were being committed?

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