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The Journal Gazette

Monday, November 20, 2017 10:00 pm

New Haven BZA approves treatment center

In a unanimous decision Monday, the New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals approved a special use request for a residential addictions treatment facility run by Park Center. 

The planned 56-bed inpatient treatment facility was originally planned for the vacant former Verizon office on Rupp Drive in Fort Wayne. However, Park Center withdrew its plans for the Fort Wayne location following backlash from residents who did not want the treatment center near their homes. Park Center's new location is at 4820 New Haven Ave. at the Fort Wayne-New Haven border.

The New Haven site is located across the street from the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health Annex and formerly housed North American Van Lines and the state welfare department. 

"The location we looked at in Fort Wayne, I think would have worked, but I really like the fact that this space has more outdoor space, where we can go out, have a nice courtyard, have basketball outside and sort of spread out a little bit," Park Center CEO Paul Wilson said. "So, I actually like this location better than (Fort Wayne)."

Funding for the project on a long-term basis will come from Medicaid and Recovery Works, a state program designed to help provide support for people without insurance coverage who are involved with the criminal justice system. In the short-term, Wilson said funding for the project comes from a combination of grant funding and money from Senate Bill 510 approved by the Indiana General Assembly last year. 

Monday's approval does not change the property's zoning from its current industrial designation. The special use granted by the board was necessary because drug treatment facilities are not specifically allowed by the existing classification. 

The project was met with no serious opposition during Monday's hearing, although the owner of an adjacent property expressed concerns with regard to parking lot lighting and fencing along the southern property line. Wilson said Park Center will work with all of the adjacent property owners to ensure their concerns are met. 

Park Center's proposal is also supported by New Haven Police Chief Henry McKinnon, as well as other emergency services operating in New Haven. 

"These types of addictions lead to accidents, violence, thefts, exposures and risks to first responders," McKinnon said in a statement read aloud by Deputy Chief Rod Hormann. "After hearing from representatives from Park Center about this facility and its proposed function, I feel this would be a positive step in helping combat the addiction crisis we face today." 

Hormann added that first responders understand the need for a facility like Park Center's. Hormann said he also supports the project.

"Our guys see the overdoses, they see the repeated overdoses and they see the deaths," Hormann said. 

Allen County has need for such a facility, Wilson told the board, because of the sharp uptick in opioid overdoses in 2017 compared to the previous year. In October alone, there were more than 60 overdose deaths in Allen County, with 75 more pending toxicology results. Once those results are in, it's likely more than 150 deaths related to drug overdoses occurred in October, Wilson said.

The property is currently owned by the Tippmann Group, which will lease the property to Park Center for 10 years, at which point Park Center will purchase the facility, Wilson said.