Alpine residents express concerns about proposed drug rehab facility
Matt Powers, Deseret News
ALPINE — Some Alpine residents are saying, "Not in my backyard" about plans for a drug rehabilitation facility in their neighborhood.
Alpine Recovery Lodge plans to build a halfway house for men at 1018 E. Oak Hill Drive, a location that's in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Some residents are concerned for their safety and have questioned if Alpine is the right place for the facility.
The city says there’s nothing it can do to stop the facility from being built. Addiction is considered a disability, meaning cities can't discriminate against rehabilitation facilities. State and federal law allows these types of facilities to move into residential communities.
Tuesday night, the planning commission was scheduled to discuss Alpine Recovery Lodge’s application for reasonable accommodation. While cities can't stop these types of facilities from being built, they can limit the number of people getting treatment in the house. Two years ago, Alpine put it at four. The new facility is asking that the number be increased to 16.
The item was pulled from Tuesday's agenda at the request of the lodge. Residents were still invited to voice their concerns.
Alpine resident Nick Zurcher was just one of the nearly 100 people who attended the meeting. He told members of the commission he's spent 10 years making his home just right for his family. So, when he heard a drug and alcohol treatment facility was hoping to move in next door, he became concerned.
"I worry about (my family's) safety. So, as a father and a husband, I'm trying to do everything I can," Zurcher said. "You move to Alpine expecting a certain degree of safety, because of its remoteness and the ‘bedroom community' feeling it has; and that's being taken away from us.”
Still, some residents at the meeting supported the facility moving to their town, saying addicts could use a good place.
"I don't know them at all, but I had a drug rehab in my (LDS) ward in Park City, and it was an incredible experience for our ward," said Creed Archibald, who lives in Alpine.
Some residents also said they were concerned the facility would increase traffic in the area and decrease property values.
Most people in the neighborhood agreed that these types of facilities are needed. The issue for them is whether their neighborhood is the right type for such a facility.
"We are concerned," said Jannicke Brewer, chairwoman of the Alpine Planning Commission. "It's an unknown. It's a little uncertain and, especially if you have children, it worries you."
For many residents, having this type of facility so close to their homes is unsettling.
"We want the city to do all that is in their power, legally, to fight this from coming in, and not allowing them to go from four people to 16," Zurcher said.
Alpine Recovery Lodge did not return calls for comment. The planning commission didn't know when the facility's managers will ask for another meeting. It says if the meeting is rescheduled, commission members indicated it will be posted on the city's website, alpinecity.org.
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