WOODBURY – A plan to turn Curtis House into a sober house has been pulled, according to a letter received in the town’s planning office from the client’s attorney.
Under the plan, Curtis House would have been sold by the Hardisty family to Route 67 GR, LLC and become Soar Lodge, a sober facility for young adult males aged 18 to 28 and consist of an extensive life skills based curriculum.
At the September 6 Planning Commission meeting, Kenneth Slater, attorney for Route 67 GR, LLC, explained that Soar Lodge would be a short term residential use providing a place for those recovering from addiction, with residents being committed to being sober. Those patients would be coming to the facility after completing a 30-day program and being referred through a healthcare provider.
First Selectman Bill Butterly, who would not say if he was for or against the plan, said most people in town were against the plan from the get go. But Butterly added that there were a few misconceptions about the intent of Sober House.
“The common misconception I had found was that the (Waterbury) police were going to find a drunk on the street and put him in lock-up,” Butterly said. “Then (Waterbury Municipal Court) would tell him that he either goes to hoosegow (jail) or he goes to this facility in Woodbury, and that was not the case.”
Butterly added that the Sober House was intended to be a high-end facility. Patients would have to pay between $7,000 and $10,000 a month to stay there. The average stay, according to Slater, would be six months.
Jeff McKenna of the Woodbury-Bethlehem Parent Connection said this wasn’t a case of Woodbury residents not wanting a sober house in their back yards, but in their front yards.
“It’s the first thing you see when you get to Woodbury,” McKenna said.
McKenna said he thought the sober house would have a chance of operating on the Curtis House site, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA could have had the town’s hands tied, should Route 67 GR, LLC pursued the plan.
The ADA defines an “individual with a disability” as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.
Maryann Van Aken, co-chair of the Woodbury-Bethlehem Advocates for Substance Abuse, agreed that the plan was not popular among Woodbury residents.
“Its not necessarily that they don’t want a sober house in our community, because I think those of us who understand know we need sober houses,” Van Aken said. “I think the concern is that they don’t want it right on Main St., they want it to be away from restaurants, package stores, and not on Main St.”
Butterly said a lot of the sentiment had to do with the location, and the fact that Curtis House is the state’s oldest inn.
“(But) the same people, if this company said, ‘Okay, there happens to be an empty lot behind your house, we’ll put it there,’ would say, ‘wait a minute,’” Butterly said.
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