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Drug Rehab Plan Advances

by Thomas MacMillan | Dec 27, 2012 4:16 pm

(3) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Social Services, The Hill, West River

Thomas MacMillan Photo A plan to build a gym has become a pressure point for neighbors trying to stop a private drug rehab center from opening on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard.

Thomas MacMillan File Photo A company called Coal New Haven is moving forward with plans to build the new 105-bed treatment center at 915 Ella T. Grasso Boulevard (pictured) for people recovering from drug addiction. The site is At a shuttered nursing home.

The company wants to build a large new gym for use by people at the center. To do so, it needs a zoning variance to allow fewer spaces and more lot coverage than zoning regulations otherwise require.

Coal submitted a variance application to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) earlier this month. The BZA referred the matter to the City Plan Commission, which last week voted to recommend that the BZA approve the plan for the new gym. The matter now heads back to the BZA for a final vote.

“We are opposition to the erection of this gymnasium,” West River activist Stacey Spell (pictured) told the BZA at its Dec. 11 meeting.

Where is the overflow parking going to go? he asked. The gym would be built near Porter Street, a quiet, dead end street, Spell noted.

Ndubuisi Asoh (pictured at top of story), who lives on Porter Street, presented zoners with a petition against the proposal, signed by 11 people. He accused Coal of trying to “sneak” into the neighborhood “to alter our lifestyle forever.”

A drug rehab facility is “not a reasonable use for a residential area,” he said. The center would be dangerous for kids, and would eventually be used to treat people with criminal records, Asoh predicted. “Child molestation and crime go with drug addiction.”

The center would lower property values and threaten safety, Asoh said.

BZA member Gaylord Bourne pointed out that the right to open the facility is “beyond our purview.” The drug center can go in the neighborhood by right. The only variance in question is for the construction of a gym, she noted.

That didn’t stop two more people from speaking out against the rehab center.

Attorney Anthony Avallone told the BZA that the gym will not lead to any additional traffic on Porter Street. He submitted a letter of support for the proposal written by Hill Alderwoman Jackie James.

He said the company has held a number of public meetings and even organized a bus trip for neighbors so that they could look at one of the company’s facilities in Pennsylvania.

Neighbors and lawyers were absent from the City Plan Commission meeting, where City Plan Director Karyn Gilvarg (pictured) informed commissioners of some of the opposition voiced at the BZA meeting.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the variance to allow the gym.

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posted by: MamaBear on December 27, 2012  5:13pm

The proximity is not only close to a quiet neighborhood, but also Barnard elementary school. The traffic on the Boulevard has in the past had numerous accidents and fatalities,and adding additional short term visitors would make this problem worse! As I remember, this was one of the chief complaints about the soccer field across from this location. Now it is no longer a family friendly gathering place, but an underused resource that used to be used for Lee High School,traveling adult teams, and family events. If we approve this as anything other than an inpatient medical facility for elderly rehab, we are selling out a much needed medical facility in New Haven. The staff and visitors have far fewer cars and do not need to extend into the neighborhood because the patients don’t drive. The hours for most shifts:7-3,3-11, and 111-7 do not interfere substantially with traffic.I hope this request is DENIED!!!

posted by: msconcerned on December 27, 2012  5:29pm

It would be nice if the ex-police officer Spell and the authority on Drug Addicts Asoh would participate with the rehabilitation center by teaching those child molesters how to play chess instead of using drugs.  Wow I had no idea that ALL drug addicts in rehab were child molesters and could “to alter your lifestyle forever.”  Seems to me that the drug addict would absolutely positively have to work in conjunction with the drug dealer and as we all know drug addicts go to rehab for one reason only “to use drugs”.  Wow all these years I though rehab was the place to go for help with substance abuse.  I also thought that using drugs were just a symptom of the disease of addiction.  Seems to me the neighborhood would want to have conversation with the program director to see what security measures were going to be implemented.  I’m thinking the patients in rehab need to be protected from drug dealers but I guess I was wrong about that too because they are all child molesters.  So perhaps we should just lock ‘em up.

posted by: Stephen Harris on December 28, 2012  9:08am

I think this should be an easy approval. The existing parking standards need an overhaul.

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