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VIDEO: Waterford Residents Protest Proposal for Housing Recovering Drug Addicts

Waterford residents flooded the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Thursday night to speak against a proposal by the Stonington Institute to turn 171 Rope Ferry Road into temporary housing for up to 144 men recovering from drug addictions.

Thursday night, more than 100 Waterford residents filled the auditorium in Town Hall to protest a proposal by the Stonington Institute to turn 171 Rope Ferry Road into a temporary housing facility for up to 144 men fighting substance abuse.

“I live across the street from a nuclear power plant and that doesn’t bother me,” said Waterford resident Charles McCarthy, who lives on Rope Ferry Road. “But this gives me some concern.”

The Stonington Institute needs to get a use variance approved by Waterford’s Zoning Board of Appeals to use 171 Rope Ferry Road, which was a nursing home for more than 40 years but has sat vacant for the last two, as a temporary housing facility for men fighting addictions to substance abuse. Thursday night, the Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing on the matter, and dozens of Waterford residents spoke against the proposal.

“Our issue tonight is this is not the appropriate location for this type of facility,” said Thomas Collier, an attorney who spoke against the application.

The Stonington Institute is proposing to turn the 77-room facility into temporary housing for up to 144 men fighting addictions to substance abuse. Right now, the Stonington Institute houses men in 13 different sober houses throughout southeastern Connecticut, and this proposal would consolidate all of the housing into one location.

The men will go to treatment during the day, and then come back to the facility at night. They will receive no treatment for their addiction at the facility itself, and the average stay for a man there would be 30 days.

The Stonington Institute, through its attorney Thomas Londregan, argued the Zoning Board of Appeals should change the use allowed in the zone 171 Rope Ferry Road is in to accommodate the facility because the use is similar to a nursing home. Londregan said both the nursing home and this facility provide room and board, and argued it is a less intense use than a nursing home.

“At its core, the proposed use is a residential use,” Londregan said. “Recovering alcoholics have the right to live and sleep in a residential zone and should not be limited to a commercial zone or any other zone.”

Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals did raise concerns with the proposal. Board member Cathy Newlin said her in-laws had a sober home placed near their house, and police activity greatly increased thereafter.

“I think renovating a property and cleaning up a property is a wonderful thing,” Newlin said. “But I also have concerns.”

The Zoning Board of Appeals still needs to receive a report by the Planning and Zoning Commission before it can act on the proposal. The board voted to continue the public hearing on the use variance to their next meeting, which is February 7th.

Cheryl L January 08, 2013 at 01:23 AM
While the one paid firefighter is not on duty at the firehouse during the evening hours, let there be little doubt that there are multiple volunteer fire service people in the fire houses in the evening. Having sufficient fire personnel to respond to calls during the day time hours is the frequently cited concern.
Lyle Green January 10, 2013 at 02:29 AM
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11.4% of young people between the ages of 12 to 25 used prescription drugs non medically within the past year. Those drugs include vicodin, adderall, tranquilizers,cough medicine, oxycontin, sedatives, inhalants, and ritalin. And since 36% have used marijuana, and 11.4% used synthetic marijuana, and about 5% for ecstasy and 5% hallucinogens, the question is how can we keep these drug abusers away from schools, ball fields, and residential neighborhoods. I wonder where the kids got the prescription drugs? Could someone be keeping secret?
Lyle Green January 10, 2013 at 02:48 AM
I do have to say however, Stonington Institute in my opinion is a rehab mill of low quality reaping the financial benefits offered by government and insurance companies in pursuit of $$$$. It is not unlike an owner of a sober house in a residential neighborhood who pockets $60,000++ by providing a place for an addict to live. There is gold in addiction.
The hmann January 18, 2013 at 10:27 PM
People please, the problem of addiction is in 92% of families in the USA. Many of you who are stating these anti issues are the same people that I see all the time using drugs and or alcohol. Many of these people aretrying to make better lives for themselves and have admitted there problem of addiction. Addiction could be eating, shopping, making poor decisions on a daily basis, addiction is part of our world. Maye if we all took a long hard look at our own lives maybe we could get a better understanding of addiction, like I said it is not always drugs and or alcohol, nicotine, sex,spending,verbal abuse, physical abuse, food, gambling, the list is over 1000things. If we all looked at the big picture we would feel better about ourselves and treat others with love and respect. Hmann
samely January 20, 2013 at 08:14 PM
hmann, treating people with love and respect and making sure your children and homes are safe from the first few months of an addict coming back to reality and deciding whether or not they want it to be their reality aren't the same thing. addiction is addiction but you can't really compare a food withdrawal/force feed, etc. with a dope/alcohol withdrawal, etc. i'm picking up what you're putting down, but i also know the difference between an anorexic being force fed/a purging bulimic and a dope fiend without a (dirty) needle and a xanax/an alcoholic without a bottle of vodka. so yeah why not help those with eating disorders instead? i think people are aware that the world is crazy and nobody/no household is perfect. i don't even think anyone would think that's an argument worth arguing, minus the people that don't own their own stuff.

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