Saturday, February 20, 2016

Despite Strong Community Opposition, 30-Bed Drug/Alcohol Detox Center & 40-Bed Sober Home About To Break Ground In Port St. Lucie; City Forced To Reverse Initial Denial Of Controversial Project To Settle Developer's Fair Housing Suit Alleging Discrimination Against Recovering Addicts

In Port St. Lucie, Florida, TCPalm reports:
  • Construction is to begin this month on a controversial drug-and-alcohol detox center that sparked outrage from neighbors nearly three years ago, according to its medical director.

    The $6 million Torino Addiction Treatment Campus is awaiting its city building permit, said Stuart neurologist and addiction specialist Dr. Jose Toledo. Toledo also heads New Life Addiction Treatment Center in Palm City.

    "We're finalizing everything with the bank, and if everything goes as expected we should break ground later this month," Toledo said.

    A lack of funding delayed the project, Toledo has said.

    Once completed, the 3.93-acre campus, on Northwest East Torino Parkway at Northwest Zenith Drive, would comprise two one-story buildings — a 30-bed, 9,900-square-foot drug-and-alcohol detox center; and a 40-bed, 14,000-square-foot sober home.

    Toledo anticipates the detox facility would be complete in December. He hasn't finalized construction plans for the second building, he said.

    Toledo said he has applied for a building permit. City officials, though, could not locate an application for the permit, Building-Code Administrator Joel Dramis said in an email.

    Neighbors who make up the Torino Residential Committee held numerous protests and packed City Hall in fierce opposition to the project. They argued the center would increase crime and drive down property values. The group had no comment Thursday.

    Toledo in 2013 applied for a special-exception use for detoxification services. The City Council denied the application, but reversed its decision several months later to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by Toledo.

    Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, recovering alcohol and drug addicts are considered disabled, and denying them housing could be discriminatory.

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