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Village delays action on sober house plan PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 28 June 2017 16:06

Commission tables request to convert house into 15-person facility amid support and concerns

    Plans to establish a sober house in the Village of Grafton for women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction have been put on hold.
    The Plan Commission on Tuesday, June 27, tabled consideration of a conditional use permit request to open a WINDS Recovery House following a public hearing that generated support and criticism of the proposal from about 55 people in attendance. The decision to table the permit was based on concerns about interpreting code requirements for a residential home that is not a single-family house and the need for life saving equipment, such as fire safety.
    According to Director of Planning and Development Jessica Wolff, the applicants have hired an architect to assist them with getting the sober house up to code.
    Applicants Shannon Luckey-Mueller and Annette Crandall have asked for the permit to operate the sober house in a three-story, nine-bedroom house at 1055 12th Ave.
    Their plan calls for a residential structure that would house up to 10 women and five children under full-time supervision. Women and their children would be able to live at the house for between three months and a year.
    Crandall, whose plan to open a sober home in the Town of Grafton drew opposition last September, said she would be the house supervisor until more staff is hired.
    According to Luckey-Mueller, the residents would have to follow strict procedures, including a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol use enforced by regular and random testing. Residents would be screened through interviews, and have to sign a living-terms agreement.
    During the Plan Commission meeting, Luckey-Mueller said WINDS, which stands for Women Integrating New Directions in Sobriety, would provide recovery support, parenting skills, job-search training, health information and other assistance.
    “It is not a detention center, nor is it a substitute to incarceration,” Luckey-Mueller said. “The residents are free citizens who choose to live in a sober environment for their own benefit. A sober house is not a medical care facility, it’s not a mental health facility, and it’s not a treatment center.”
    A number of residents spoke during the public hearing, including several who said they are recovering addicts and have experienced positive results from living in sober houses in other communities.
    “After treatment, I was allowed to live in a men’s sober house in Hartford for nine months. I am absolutely convinced I would not be alive if I did not live in a sober house during my first year of treatment,” said Matt Kuehn, who is also a member of WINDS advisory committee. “I urge the Plan Commission to consider the number of lives that could be saved with this project.”
    The proposal, however, drew criticism from residents who live near the proposed site.
    “I do not want to live near a sober living place two doors away,” resident Jean Arentz said. “There’s no guarantee what kind of people you’re going to have in that house.”
    Other neighbors said they are worried that a sober house could lower their property values and concerned for the safety of in-house residents and neighbors. They said they were also concerned about visitors and parking. According to Luckey-Mueller, there could be up to 40 visitors at the house when they are allowed during the weekends.
    Plan Commission members said they are open to reviewing the conditional use permit once the facility meets the code requirements.

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