FARMINGTON — After hearing from concerned neighbors, Farmington City Council did not approve Masada House's plans to open a men's transitional living home on Virden Street in Farmington.
Late Tuesday night, Councilors Mary Fischer and Dan Darnell made a motion to approve the zoning change for the property at 3815 Virden St. Nate Duckett and Gayla McCulloch voted against it. Because more than 20 percent of neighbors within a 100-foot radius of the property opposed the change, 75 percent council approval was required to pass the zoning change and special use permit that would have allowed Masada House to open the men's home.
"Farmington needs this," Karen Chenault, Masada House's program director, said before the vote. "It needs it desperately."
Councilors in mid-January also struck down a request to rezone and issue a permit for a men's home at 2107 Schofield Lane. Residents of that neighborhood spoke out against the move, saying they were worried about crime and that the clients would scare children.
The city's Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the special use permit and rezoning for the Virden Street property. The commission also approved, in a 5-2 vote, the special use permit and rezoning at the Schofield Lane property.
The zone change — from single-family residential to multi-family residential — would have allowed 12 adults to stay at the Virden Street home. The requested special use permit would have allow the operation of the men's shelter.
No city departments reported concerns about the home opening on Virden Street, according to city documents.
"It will not be any more detrimental to the health, welfare and safety than any of the other residences in the neighborhood," the Planning and Zoning Commission wrote in its report about the home.
The main opposition for the Virden Street was in a petition signed by Jesus and Anna Araujo and nine other residents.
The Araujos own 60 percent of the lots on Virden Street and maintain them as a "family-oriented neighborhood," they wrote in the petition. Among the reasons they cited for opposing the transitional home are concerns for the safety of children, families and seniors and fears about how the home would affect real estate values.
On Tuesday, Jesus Araujo asked Chenault how staff would control clients. Two staff would monitor the home, according to city records. Chenault said Masada House screens its clients to prevent violence.
"We've never had any violence," she said.
Duckett told Jesus Araujo he knows people who have had trouble with addiction.
"There's this understanding that none of us want this in our backyard," he said.
The Masada House program has a proven record, he said, and he asked Jesus Araujo where else he would recommend the home be located.
Another neighbor, Serjio Borunda, said near the jail would be better. Police response time would be quicker, he said.
Borunda said he understands there's a need for the home in the community, but he doesn't want it in his neighborhood with its seniors.
No opposition was raised when Chenault opened a women's transitional living home at 610 N. Dustin Ave., she said. She said she surveyed 11 neighborhood residents, and 10 said the home has been a "pleasant neighbor."
"I have lived in this neighborhood for five years and have never had any problems with these people," Ruby Frye wrote in one survey. "They are always quiet and keep a clean yard and are polite when I do see them outside."
Men, Chenault said, are perceived to be aggressors. But, she said, they often behave better than women in the same situations.