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Neighbors meet again to discuss proposed Cox’s Creek drug rehab facility

Dr. Steve Harris explains why he supports having a local drug rehab facility that is located closer to the hospital.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018 — About 45 people turned out Thursday night for a community meeting regarding the proposal to place a drug rehab at the old Cox’s Creek Elementary School building on Old Louisville Road.

The building formerly served as the alternative school campus for the Bardstown City Schools. The school system declared the property surplus in late 2016 and according to the Nelson County PVA records, the property — the school building and the six acres surrounding it — was purchased by Westlake, Ohio-based Equity Trust Co. on behalf of Vincent and Rose Downs in early 2017.

Don Thrasher, the Republican candidate for judge executive, suggested Nelson Fiscal Court change the zoning ordinances to prohibit locating the proposed drug rehab in an area zoned Agriculture.

The proposal to place a 100-person residential drug rehab clinic at the former school has generated substantial opposition from neighboring property owners, many of whom repeated their concerns about having the rehab clinic so close to their homes.

Dr. Steve Harris, a resident of Col. Cox Road near High Grove, told the crowd that he supported having a drug rehab facility in our community — but not one using the former school building.

A petition collected signatures of those opposed to the proposed rehab facility while Harris explained the reasons why the site was unsuitable for the 100-bed unit.

“The public utilities just aren’t out there,” Harris said, referring to the lack of sufficient water supply for adequate fire protection, the lack of sanitary sewers, and space for support staff parking and delivery trucks. He noted that when a fire struck a recent High Grove home, it took the county fire department 27 minutes to arrive.

“The facility should be located by the hospital on 245,” he said, where the need infrastructure already exists, earning nods of approval from many of his listeners.

Harris called on the joint city-county planning office to help Dr. Muhammad Wasim Sajid locate a more suitable location for the proposed drug rehab.

In addition to utility service, Harris pointed out that the school lacks facilities to feed 100 residents, as well as do the laundry and handle medical waste the facility might generate. Hazardous medical waste cannot be disposed of in a septic system, he said. If the septic system can’t handle the demand of up to 100 residents, it could mean sewage overflowing from the property onto neighbors farms and fields, he said.

Security was another concern discussed, with one visitor noting the fact that only four sheriff’s deputies are on duty that have to serve the entire county.

Harris told the crowd that if the proposed facility gets approved, it would only be because “there was a lot of stuff done under the table.”

“We can do better than his, Nelson County.”

THRASHER: CHANGE ZONING ORDINANCE TO KEEP CLINIC OUT. Don Thrasher, the Republican candidate for judge executive, told the crowd that Nelson Fiscal Court approved changes to the zoning regulations to allow the placement of Heaven Hill Cox’s Creek bourbon warehouses on property zoned for agriculture, and Fiscal Court can take similar action to help residents who don’t want the drug rehab in their neighborhood.

Thrasher invited members of the group to attend next Tuesday’s Nelson Fiscal Court meeting and help him demand that the county change the zoning regulations to prohibit the placement of the drug rehab at the Cox’s Creek school building.

“If Fiscal Court can do this to us in Cox’s Creek once, we want you to do it again and take that rehab thing out of Agriculture before it even gets to go to the Board of Adjustments,” Thrasher said.

Several members of the audience said they would attend the next Nelson Fiscal Court meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.

But Thrasher’s request may not get very far. County government and the planning commission’s hands are generally tied when it comes to changing zoning laws to prohibit facilities that provide treatment to addicts.

Several of the people at the meeting spoke favorably of the Isaiah House in Chaplin.

Three federal laws currently protect people with disabilities from discrimination. Those include:

— The Fair Housing Act [FHA], which protects people from being discriminated against when renting, buying or securing any housing on the basis of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, disability or family status (e.g., having children). It also prohibits local land use rules from discriminating on the basis of these categories.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits the discrimination, denial of benefits or exclusion of persons with disabilities by any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

— and The Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects persons with disabilities against discrimination and ensures their equal opportunity in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation. The ADA protects the civil rights of people who have successfully completed, or are currently enrolled in, a drug rehabilitation program.

Developers have successfully sued local governments who attempted to use zoning and land use laws to prohibit treatment facilities from locating in certain areas. If county government made changes to the county’s zoning ordinances to prohibit the drug rehab, it would invite legal challenges in state and/or federal courts.

The group spent nearly two hours discussing the proposed facility, with nearly everyone expressing support for a local drug rehab facility that would be located closer to the local hospital.

NEXT UP. The Nelson County Board of Adjustments will meet at 9 a.m. Sept. 20, 2018, at the Nelson County Civic Center, 317 S. Third St., to consider the application for a conditional use permit.

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