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Newport Town Attorney, Derek Taylor, explains the criteria that the town’s Board of Adjustments must consider during a quasi-judicial hearing on the request for a special use permit to allow for a family care home for recovering addicts in the Lakeview Drive neighborhood. (News-Times)

NEWSPORT — Facing an overflow audience in the Newport Town Board room Thursday evening, the Newport Board of Adjustments voted to deny a special-use permit for the establishment of a temporary residence for recovering addicts in the town’s Lakeview Drive neighborhood. The decision by the four members of the board came after five hours of public testimony that oftentimes bordered on commentary and not factual document as required in the special hearing. 

The quasi-judicial hearing focused on the request by Hope is Alive (HIA) ministries, an Oklahoma-based drug rehabilitation program, to convert a single-family residence at 2310 Lakeview Drive into a rehabilitation facility to house up to six males who are transitioning into a sober lifestyle from drug or alcohol addiction.
HIA currently has two facilities in the area, one for male residents in Otway and a second, for female residents in Hubert. One Harbor Church, a local non-denominational church located in Morehead City with satellite facilities in Swansboro, Beaufort and Havelock, is the primary sponsor of the local mentoring homes and stood in as representatives for HIA ministries. 
Town attorney Derek Taylor explained at the outset of the meeting that the hearing was by state law a judicial process that required the board of adjusters to follow certain rules of order. He told the audience that because the proceedings were legal in nature, akin to a court hearing, all presentations had to be made in the form of sworn statements and had to involve factual evidence and not opinion. 
Mr. Taylor also advised the four board members that they were required to determine that anyone making a presentation had “legal standing” by showing that the board’s decision would have material impact on their home, property or lives.  Mr. Taylor stressed that the purpose was not to hear opinions, but for the Board of Adjustments to make a determination based solely on facts. 
The board has eight seats, but only five are currently filled. Attending the Thursday evening meeting were town appointees James Shirley, Richard Kanuck, Tim Quillen and board chairman Herb Aponte. C.D. Whitlow, the only current county appointee to the board, was not able to attend. 
To clarify this need for facts in the case, the town attorney presented six specific issues the board was authorized to consider under the special use permit standards. The board was also tasked with determining if the home would be detrimental to the value of adjacent or nearby property, and finally, did the proposal comply with local, state and federal laws. 
On the issue of compliance with state, federal and local ordinances, Mr. Taylor noted that the use of the home as a drug rehabilitation was permissible under federal American Disabilities Act and state statutes, which he noted mirrored the federal rules.  But due to a paragraph in Newport’s zoning ordinance that had to be determined, in addition to the issues of value and security for the area, was a restriction on proximity with other family care facilities. 
Describing the proposed use of the Lakeview Drive home by HIA as a family care facility, the town’s interim planning director, Laura Oxley, explained that because there is another family care facility, a home for intellectual and developmentally disabled adults, located within a half mile of the proposed HIA home, the town’s zoning ordinance requires a special-use permit. 
If that issue of proximity did not exist, then no special consideration would have been required to utilize the home as a halfway house. 
Addressing the reason for this restriction, Bob Chambers, the town’s retired planner, explained that when that adult home was first permitted in the subdivision, then Mayor Darrell Garner directed that a paragraph be added to the town’s zoning ordinance to prevent whole neighborhoods being developed of family care homes.
Doug Goins, the attorney for the applicants, presented two witnesses to explain the purpose of the home. Eric Morris, a former client of the program who is now a senior manager for the ministry, explained that the program involves voluntary commitment on the part of the tenants. He noted that the residents have to meet stringent requirements to include having been through drug treatment, and that once the client is accepted as a resident, must follow very stringent rules, including involvement in group therapy programs, and must also be gainfully employed.
Following the presentations by the applicants, Newport resident Nancy Fazekas, a clinical researcher, presented documents in three-ring binders to the adjustment board detailing her concerns and complaints about the use of the former Wallace Conner home as mentoring facility for recovering addicts.
After an hour-long presentation by Ms. Fazekas, the board voted to deny her documentation as acceptable evidence, agreeing with Mr. Goins' assessment that it was based on hearsay evidence. This decision resulted in shouts of disappointment from the majority of onlookers. 
All of the witnesses speaking in opposition to permitting the facility expressed support for the purpose of the home, suggesting that it should be located outside of a close residential area occupied by both children and elderly adults.
Throughout the five-hour hearing, board members and those who spoke as witnesses expressed concern with the fact that the homes have a failure rate that Mr. Morris described as 60%. That, along with the fact that most of the residents would be coming from outside the area in order to get them away from familiar surrounding that might lead back to addiction, were issues that garnered the most conversation. 
Mr. Quillin told the HIA representatives that the lack of professional mental health review of the residents and the fact that they could be kicked out of the residence with no way home were serious concerns. These same comments were also expressed by witnesses opposing the permit.
According to Mr. Goins, the petitioners, HIA and One Harbor Church, can seek to appeal the decision by the town’s Board of Adjustments. The appeal would be made to the Carteret County Superior Court and would involve a review by a Superior Court judge of the facts and information presented during the Thursday evening hearing to determine if the board made the right decision. As of press time, Mr. Goins said his clients have not decided if they will appeal the decision.

(15) comments

David Collins

So , it is over . Probably best for all .

These out of state do gooder groups are prone to push their way in without regard for the folks next door and around . Surely , a more secure location could be found .

Begs the question , where does the funding for all this come from ?

Osprey

Funding from people who care. Criticism from chronic complainers.

drewski

This decision resulted in shouts of disappointment from the majority of onlookers.

"old fashioned courtesy" indeed!

Sleepwalker

Interesting…I’ve been commenting on this in other threads. Let me be clear on my position. Narcotics and booze have been around forever. There’s no mystery on the addiction. Sure there’s the small percentage of good folks that get injured and subsequently prescribed pain killers…then become addicted. No mystery there either. All that is pretty well known. Everyone has free will and “should be” accountable for their own actions… I get the part where the church is trying to help. By putting that house in a neighborhood, they’re making someone else’s problem the surrounding residents problem. Why doesn’t the church build an addition and house the folks there? They’ve got tax free status and it would keep the recovering addicts close to them beings their so concerned.

Lucy0806

Totally agree with you. They already have enough property right next to the church.

drewski

I wonder what % of all the naysayers attend church and or consider themselves Christian? 16 yrs of Sunday school and church thrice weekly suggest to me Jesus was not a nimby kind of guy.

" when the roll is called up yonder "

David Collins

More than a little injustice has been done in the name of Christianity and that includes wars . Turn the other cheek , while sounding noble , just is not going to happen .

Sounds like the do gooders may appeal . If so , than another page in this kerfuffle will turn . NIMBYism is not necessarily a bad thing in all cases .

Still think that EI would be a good location . Plenty of jobs gone looking over there .

beachmami13

I went ahead and drove over there. It's a big property, but it is in a very residential area. I can understand both sides of the argument. Is there a way for the sides to meet in the middle somehow?

HJM92

A fine example of fake "Christianity" at it's worst.

Creeker

I think that it is dangerous to have a policy to kick out someone of this program that is away from their support systems and not take them back to their home base. That is just inviting trouble for the community. I would not want this in my backyard. For all of the commentary of “being Christian” - you can always house some of them. That way you can practice your desire to help the underprivileged.

David Collins

Just because a person claims to be “Christian “ does not mean they are not concerned . Bad things happen every day no matter what words are used to put the neighborhood at ease . Being concerned does not equate to stupidity and bashing one’s chosen religion is childish .

Agree , really want to reach out and provide help , then open your own doors and take them to raise . Failing that , just empty words .

drewski

Real Christians try to emulate christ, and follow his example in word and deed. As I previously said most folks are not equipped to deal with addiction issues. So " you take them in " is just foolish talk.

Sleepwalker

Yeah apparently the “professional” caregivers aren’t very good either…with the high failure rate and all. You could take them AND their caregivers in…bragging on church attendance is just bad form.

drewski

The failure rate says more about the nature of addiction then supposed failures in treatment. My youthful church attendance is a point of reference, not a boast. Many folks could benefit from less bitterness and more compassion?

Sleepwalker

Agree about bitterness… pot…kettle…black

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