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Thread: Substance abuse facilities

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    Substance abuse facilities

    Certain neighborhoods in our city have seen an influx of substance abuse facilities. Investors and developers over paid for properties and are unable to develop them because of the real estate downturn. They now are renting the properties to substance abuse facilitators. The local residents have complained to the city at Planning and Zoning and Council meetings that they do not want these facilities in their neighborhood. The city's position is that these facilities can usurp local zoning and licensing thru the Americans with Disabilities Act. The patients are disabled and cannot be discriminated against in housing rights. Can the Americans with Disabilites Act be used by the substance abuse facilites in this manner? Isn't this stretching the law to the point of absurdity?

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Great question - I wouldn't want to touch that one with a ten foot pole. In my city a man kept goats which our attorney said we had to allow because he was a licensed therapist and goats were used in his practice. It's tough when you mix federal law and local laws together.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    When you say substance abuse facilities are you talking about rehabilitation centers, or what?

    And this reminds me of the uproar in my city over a mental health housing project. Isn't this just a case of NIMBY?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RPfresh View post
    When you say substance abuse facilities are you talking about rehabilitation centers, or what?

    And this reminds me of the uproar in my city over a mental health housing project. Isn't this just a case of NIMBY?
    That's what I would need to know as well - what do you mean by "substance abuse facilities"? Does it mean housing, medical services, counseling, all of the above?

    We've had similar situations here where investors are buying properties for the MPRI (prisoner re-entry iniative). We make sure they specifically clarify what will take place on the property and then if it is solely residential we deal with it much like what I posted in the fraternity thread.

    As far as the ADA goes, that's something the City Attorney would have to answer but I'd be curious to hear the answer.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Capt. Rich View post
    Certain neighborhoods in our city have seen an influx of substance abuse facilities. Investors and developers over paid for properties and are unable to develop them because of the real estate downturn. They now are renting the properties to substance abuse facilitators. The local residents have complained to the city at Planning and Zoning and Council meetings that they do not want these facilities in their neighborhood. The city's position is that these facilities can usurp local zoning and licensing thru the Americans with Disabilities Act. The patients are disabled and cannot be discriminated against in housing rights. Can the Americans with Disabilites Act be used by the substance abuse facilites in this manner? Isn't this stretching the law to the point of absurdity?
    It's actually Fair Housing Act if there is no on-site "care" (i.e. think medical). If it is like a halfway house or something similar, sober living facility, etc. Tread lightly. Our City is working on an ordinance to regulate things like sober living care in residential neighborhoods. We have examples of other jurisdictions, but i caution, work with your City Attorney to craft these things.
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  6. #6
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I'm going to revive an old thread, because I'm charged with creating a definition to distinguish substance abuse rehab centers from group homes.

    Our group home definition can be inclusive of substance abuse rehab centers, but we are looking to define and zone substance abuse rehab centers as a separate category/use.

    Anyone separately define substance abuse rehab center as a distinct use and where do you zone them (commercial, residential, etc)?

    Please provide some definition text if possible.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus dvdneal's avatar
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    I don't know if my last city's were the best, but we tried to break these apart into "assisted living facilities" and "group homes". Assisted living covered anything with disabilities or medical or assisted care while group home was anything else. I thought there was some definition I could grab for you that followed state requirements, but I can't find it now that they fixed up the code.

    Looking at my definitions PAS report this seems to be one of the better ones:

    A residential building housing not more than eight service-dependent or developmentally disabled people living with professional staff who function as surrogate parents. The group home individuals who are undergoing treatment or rehabilitation and constitutes a single housekeeping unit in which residents share responsibilities, meals, and recreation. - From Glen Ellyn, Ill.

    Here's a simple one for halfway house:

    A place where persons are aided in readjusting to society following a period of imprisonment, hospitalization, or institutionalized treatment. From Jefferson City, MO.

    Maybe just remove the hospitalization part.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I recently went through a similar issue concerning a substance abuse rehabilitation facility. Take a look at Sector 62 of the NAICS. There is good stuff here.

    https://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch
    Annoyingly insensitive

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Thanks guys for the assistance.

    RJ - how was your process? What were the factors used to differentiate? What was the impetus (if you care to elaborate)?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    Simple answer, the ADA does NOT cover people with current illegal use of a controlled substance, or persons convicted of crimes involving the manufacture or sale of illegal drugs. It also does not cover people who constitute a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Individuals who are drug addicts and not currently using illegal drugs are entitled to reasonable accommodation.

    Sort of a double standard though, alcoholics are always protected under the ADA, even if they are currently a user (in certain circumstances). I'm no lawyer, but I would think a "sober living" facility would be protected. I'd be curious about those prison re-entry homes though. I wonder if individuals who were convicted of violent crimes would be excluded from ADA protection, considering the conviction would be enough to constitute the person is a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Would someone convicted of a violent crime who has been released early and put on parole be deemed to be not a threat any longer?

    In NC, we are specifically directed through state general statute to leave group homes/family care homes alone if there are six or fewer people in the home. They are to be allowed in any residential district, and cannot be directed through a conditional use permit, special use permit, special exception, or variance from the ordinance. We can prohibit these homes from being located with a one-half mile radius of an existing home however.

    Family care homes/Group Homes are defined as "a home with support and supervisory personnel that provides room and board, personal care and habitation services in a family environment for NOT MORE than six persons with disabilities"

    Persons with disabilities is defined as "a person with temporary or permanent physical, emotional, or mental disability including but not limited to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, hearing and sight impairments, emotional disturbances and orthopedic impairments".

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    ......RJ - how was your process? What were the factors used to differentiate? What was the impetus (if you care to elaborate)?
    Our code is littered with references to the NAICS for uses that are allowed or conditionally permitted (whether this is a good idea is a topic for another thread). In our General Commercial zone, our most intense commercial zone, Sector 62 uses are allowed as a matter of right. The business is also housing patients in off-site housing. That started the problem for us because Sector 62 uses are not allowed in our residential zone districts. After some clarification from the owner, we learned that no treatment is offered at the housing sites. And that's the distinction in our view: in-patient verses out-patient treatment.

    And be careful AG74683, in our attorney's opinion, these folks are a protected class not only under ADA but the Federal Fair Housing Act.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  12. #12
    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    And be careful AG74683, in our attorney's opinion, these folks are a protected class not only under ADA but the Federal Fair Housing Act.
    Which folks?

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    Cyburbian Plus dvdneal's avatar
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    The way I look at these is based on the people being served in the home. I've always treated places that take care of physical or mental disabilities, by disability I mean born with (more or less), as a regular home. Same thing goes with foster kids because they're considered family. Assisted care for the elderly gets treated different because the care begins to provide nursing. That one might be touchy, but it's held up in Arizona. Drug and alcohol rehab, half way houses, and shelters are not treated as residential since they house more than (4 in my last city) unrelated people. The big difference to me, drugs, prison, and other shelters were things you may have had some control over in life (which isn't fair to say about abuse victims). Basically you weren't born with it. Here I use the state guidelines to determine what is and isn't a home or facility. For the most part the magic number is 10. Once you're past 10 people you become a commercial facility. Otherwise I treat it all as residential down to my lack of residential building codes.

    Example, we have someone that wants to do a house for runaway teens. Sex slavery seems to be a big topic here as part of the runaway issue. They have a house in the city, but want to expand to the county with an 8 bed facility. I would let them have the 8 bed facility as an allowed use, but I would recommend building it to commercial standards so they can expand at any time with nothing more than a use permit to allow a commercial facility over a residential level facility.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Kingmak's avatar
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