City strikes down halfway house in Wilmington neighborhood - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

City strikes down halfway house in Wilmington neighborhood

Around 50 residents came to City Hall Thursday to speak out against a halfway house in their neighborhood. (Source: WECT) Around 50 residents came to City Hall Thursday to speak out against a halfway house in their neighborhood. (Source: WECT)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

Around 50 residents came to City Hall Thursday to speak out against a halfway house in their neighborhood.

Christian Recovery Houses wanted to buy a home on Canterbury Road, but needed a variance from the city's adjustment board.

The density ordinance prevents halfway houses from being too close to one another. The variance would have granted an exception from the half-mile rule.

“If you allow the variance, then you’re setting a very bad precedent,” Eric Reeves said. "To allow future variances to allow future groups to come in and claim discrimination because their variance isn’t approved so the city basically loses control of zoning.”

Neighbors were also concerned about the proximity to Alderman Elementary School, and a pre-school.

“It makes me a little wary. People relapse. The people they might attract to come there,” Meredith Manning said. “It’s not necessarily that we don’t want people to get well. We just don’t want it happening right near our children.”

Program director Elizabeth Williams said the organization has never had opposition at any of the other three Wilmington locations.

“It’s heartbreaking. To not feel accepted by any means, it hurts,” she said. “It was very clear that we are good neighbors and we participate in community service. We want to live in a house that is home, that is attractive and well maintained.”

CJ Blankenship is the president at Christian Recovery. He said the space for recovery is desperately needed and Christian Recovery wants to work with the city, not against it.

“Wilmington is in trouble. It’s the No. 1 city for opioid abuse in the entire USA. That’s significant," he said. "The reality is we have a waiting list, 20 people day in and day out, that are trying to get help. At the end of the day, the city that’s No. 1 in the US for opioid abuse, we’re prohibiting people from getting recovery."

Shannon Brown has lived at one of the recovery houses for more than a year. She said she understands neighbors' hesitation, but she believes the home deserves a chance.

“From what I’ve experienced in this ministry, if anyone was to relapse or mess up, we don’t tolerate that," Brown said. "Those people aren’t there. Really (people) want their recovery and they want to grow in their walk with God and their community, so I don’t see it as a threat or a problem to the community at all.”

Christian Recovery has 30 days to appeal the board's decision.

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.

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