Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Should Eagle Mountain Allow A Substance Abuse Treatment Home In Its City?

I went to my city council meeting last week to hear the debate surrounding whether or not to allow a substance abuse group home in Eagle Mountain. The home would be called Ark of Eagle Mountain and would house up to eight people undergoing substance abuse rehabilitation programs in a residential neighborhood of EM. The original application was filed with the city last fall, and this meeting was to hear public comment and put the group home application to a final vote.

The public comment period was filled with neighbors who vehemently oppose the home. There were a few common themes running through their comments, namely:

*The home would devalue property
*EM is not the right place for a home ie. they'd be better off in a city
*Security concerns
*Questions as to motivation - supposedly the homeowners were stuck in an unsellable spec home and this is how they're getting out of it.

After the public comment period ended, the executive director of the home addressed the concerns expressed:

*Residents of the home have chosen rehab - they aren't forced there by drug court etc
*Residents will be professionals - doctors, lawyers, dentists, and some will be war veterans
*There is 24/7 supervision, including cameras, alarms, lockdowns at night
*A similar home they operate in Sandy has never had any security problems - no complaints filed, and the neighbors love them
*It's wrong to fear that the home will bring addicts to EM - they're already here. The only difference is that these addicts have chosen rehabilitation.
*Complaints against this home are just example of NIMBY

Following the Ark's response, the city council members commented, as well as asked questions of the Ark and of the city's legal counsel. None of the council are in favor of allowing the home, but are apparently resigned to the fact that federal law prevents them from disallowing it. Some expressed anger at being in this position, feeling as though the home is being forced on the community by threat of lawsuit.

During this time a representative from the county sheriff's office presented his research that the Ark's home in Sandy has not had any security calls to the home, and a home in EM would not increase our policing costs.

In the end, the council voted to postpone the vote until April 7. They want a landscaping plan submitted, as well as a more thorough report on public safety concerns. The Ark's representatives left visibly irritated at another delay, and after leaving there was a small argument between them and one of the citizens who spoke against the home.

I am actually quite conflicted on this issue. After hearing the public comments, I too thought they sounded like little more than NIMBY. However, when one of the council members remarked that if you polled 100 people none of them would want this home next door to them, I found myself nodding in agreement. However, I feel that the home's operators have answered every question, complied with every request, and, perhaps most significantly, they have a sufficient track record of safety to allay any security concerns the community may have. For these reasons I don't believe the council should stand in the way of the home any longer.

Ark of Sandy
Daily Herald Editorial
Councilman David Lifferth's notes from the meeting
SL Tribune
Daily Herald
Deseret News


Anonymous said...

That's a tough one. If you want a more roads or prisons, but won't support it in your area that's NIMBY. If you honestly don't think more roads or prisons (or in this case a substance abuse group home) are a good idea then it makes a lot of sense to fight it in your area - on the other hand, if that's your belief you should not be using NIMBY arguments.

Cameron said...

Agreed. And most of the arguments used at the meeting were NIMBY - even if the councilmen don't like it called that.

Charles D said...

These things are always a tough call. It seems to me that a group home with only 8 patients is not much of a threat, particularly given the restrictions and assurances you describe here.

The problem with illicit drugs in my opinion is that by criminalizing possession and sale and working to restrict supply we have created an environment where addicts need a lot of money to supply their habit and stealing to get that money is less risky since they are violating the law already.

Jamie said...

It's easy for people to say they don't want something like this in the neighborhood if they have never dealt with a loved one who NEEDED help and found it. However, *this is a "judgmental" statement but..* wouldn't it be better to put it somewhere closer to where police/or even ambulances could reach?

Jamie said...

Not all people hooked on drugs are stealing money. I know a dr who was hooked on pain killers. They need a home for people who need ANY type of abuse of "drugs"

Blane said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I am researching this topic for a private matter and this is very helpful and informative.