By CRA News Service
Delray Beach – The city may be well known for its leniency towards sober houses but a group of residents along the ocean say they
do not want another drug and alcohol sober-living facility in their backyard.
“We have been caught off guard and many people are angry for that,” said Cary Glickstein, resident of the beach area and chairman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board. “Transient housing denigrates a neighborhood for myriad of reasons and in my opinion belongs in the city only
where transient lodging is currently allowed — hotel zoned property — and not in single-family neighborhoods.”
Glickstein’s comments come after learning that the city has approved a $1.5 million home along North Ocean Boulevard to accommodate
a supervised sober-living program.
The Caron Foundation, a drug-and alcohol-addiction rehabilitation center, received approval to allow more than three unrelated people to live in a house, a law the city adopted in June 2009 in an attempt to curb the growth of sober houses in the city, estimated at more than 200, according to the South County Recovery Association, a member-based recovery facility organization.
The Pennsylvania-based Caron Foundation has locations nationwide, including Delray Beach and Boca Raton.
The program at the home, at an undisclosed address, is tailored for a very small group of affluent clients who seek a high
level of discretion and anonymity while they go through the rehabilitation program, said Drew Rothermel, president of Caron Florida operations. All treatment will take place at Caron’s clinical campus in Boca Raton, he said.
Jim Green, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represents The Caron Foundation, said the city or neighbors can’t discriminate against people who are in active recovery and who are given protected status under federal law.
While people complain about sober houses, he said he sees no evidence they destroy neighborhoods, as several residents claimed.
“They apparently are not well-informed or don’t know the law,” Green said of angry residents. “Federal courts around the country have determined that people in recovery have the right to live in single-family neighborhoods.”
City commissioners, trying to rid Delray of its moniker as the recovery capital of the world, in June 2009 approved measures to keep sober houses out of single-family neighborhoods. They also reduced the number of unrelated people who can rent homes or apartments from five to three.
But residents say that the laws lack the teeth to keep unscrupulous operators out and to keep the sober and recovery business from sprouting in residential neighborhoods.
“My big thing is accountability,” said former City Commissioner Gary Eliopoulos, who appealed to the City Commission to improve the laws he and the commission had voted on when he was on the dais. “I want to make sure that the laws and regulations we have for single-family zoning are being enforced and complied with and make sure to review them again and tighten up all the loopholes.”
Commissioner Jay Alperin encouraged residents to come up with solutions and bring them to city officials.