FARMINGTION — City Council will decide whether to allow a home for men recovering from alcohol and drugs, known as Masada House, to operate at a proposed southeast Farmington location during its afternoon meeting Tuesday.
Council in mid-January shot down the same transitional home proposed for 2107 Schofield Lane, with Jason Sandel, now a former councilor, Mary Fisher and Dan Darnell voting against it. Councilor Gayla McCulloch, who owns land within 100-feet of the site, declined to vote.
Neighborhood residents also opposed the house's proposed location. Juan Ortega told the council during the January meeting that he feared men recovering at the nearby home would scare children from the library, and he worried about crime. Greg Drake said Grace Baptist Church's school, Crossroads Community Church and the Boys and Girls Club of Farmington would have been too close to the home.
But the Planning and Zoning Commission supported the requested zone change and special-use permit for the home, and they unanimously support it at the new proposed location, 3850 Virden Ave.
Opposition to the men's home is based on a stereotype, said Karen Chenault, Masada House's program director.
"They're looking at this as if its an old, classic halfway house where people are court-ordered, mandated to be there," she said.
That's not true for this home. This home, she said, would be a transitional living shelter that only accepts clients who want to be there, not people fresh from prison who are ordered to attend. This home would only accept clients already clean and sober, not addicts fresh from the needle or smelling of the bottle, she said. A home such as this — or anything similar — does not exist in Farmington, she said.
"There is a very real difference between a halfway house and transitional living," she said.
The requested zoning change from single-family residential to multi-family residential at the proposed property would allow 12 adults to stay at the home. The requested special-use permit would approve the transitional-living program.
Chenault would buy the new property from a private owner if council approves the zone change and permit, she said.
She toured an old San Juan County health building and the People Assisting the Homeless building, trying to find a new location, before she found the new property, she said.
No opposition was raised when Chenault opened the women's transitional living home at 610 North Dustin, and every neighbor in the area surveyed says they think the transitional living home is a "good neighbor," she said.
Men, Chenault said, are perceived to be aggressors. But, actually, they are typically less troubling than women in the same circumstances, she said.
Men are less dramatic, less dependant and less prone to crisis, she said. Men want to return to work and to their families, she said.
If the request to operate the men's home at the new property is refused, she said it likely means the community needs more education. Addiction is prevalent, and it troubles all ethnicities, she said.
"When we support the people in our community — the fathers and mothers that are having problems with alcohol (or drugs) — we get them back to work" and to their families quicker, she said.