Vote on controversial 200-bed group home postponed for fifth time

More than 225 people attended the Wilmington City Council's Jan. 8 meeting, with the crowd...
More than 225 people attended the Wilmington City Council's Jan. 8 meeting, with the crowd spilling out into the hall (WECT).
Updated: Jan. 22, 2019 at 1:59 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - For the fifth time in as many months, Wilmington City Council postponed voting on a controversial 200-bed substance abuse recovery facility.

City council considered a special use permit request for the Healing Place, which is being eyed for land on Medical Center Drive, during its meeting Tuesday night. Council members announced during their agenda review Tuesday morning the item would again be continued to a future meeting.

The continuance was requested by New Hanover County, the project’s applicant, due to the amount of items on the agenda for city council’s meeting. Council approved the continuance until a Feb. 19 meeting and the public comment period will remain open until then.

The project, a partnership between New Hanover County and Trillium Health Resources, would provide male patients with a stair-step substance abuse recovery program along with a residency component. Those with substance abuse addiction would be able to check themselves in, or be referred by law enforcement or medical first responders.

The current zoning of the location already allows for substance abuse treatment during the day, but the county and Trillium are seeking a special use permit to allow for the residency aspect.

Opponents are primarily concerned about security, chiefly because of the project’s proximity to the Lower Cape Fear Hospice, where patients are often prescribed opioids and other controlled substances.

The county and Trillium have said they have made changes to the plan, including a provision barring registered sex offenders from the facility and discouraging pedestrian travel along Physicians Drive, to try to assuage concerns that had been raised.

Council members appear split on the project; during city council’s lengthy Jan. 8 meeting, council member Kevin O’Grady moved to deny the request while council member Charlie Rivenbark said he was ready to vote in favor of the project.

Ultimately, city council directed the county and Trillium to again meet with staff from the Lower Cape Fear Hospice and others who have raised concerns about the proposal.

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