Board to hear rehab home plans



In the past three years, two young people associated with families of two local congregations have died from drug overdoses.

Two others were arrested and incarcerated due to drug violations.

Plus, others in Jackson County have overdosed on heroin.

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The overdose death of a Brownstown teenager was the ultimate event that made the churches decide that something needs to be done “to stop this senseless loss of life and deterioration of our quality of life in this community,” said the Rev. Jerry Roberts of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Medora and Vallonia United Methodist Church in Vallonia.

Roberts and the congregations want to open House of Hope Cycle-Breaking Methodist Ministry on a 0.23-acre lot at 480 S. Valley Drive in the Wayman addition on the south side of Brownstown.

Neighbors, however, have taken issue with a drug rehabilitation home being considered for a residential neighborhood.

Signs reading “Stop the drug rehab house in our neighborhood” and the date, time and location of the next Brownstown Board of Zoning Appeals meeting have popped up in neighboring yards.

The meeting, which is open to the public, is at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Brownstown Town Hall, 200 W. Walnut St. A public hearing will be conducted on the proposal.

On Dec. 28, Roberts filed an application for development standards variance at the town hall. Ben Lewis, the town’s plan commissioner, said the purpose of that application is to vary from land use.

According to town ordinance, downtown business, highway business and industrial zoning districts allow social services institutions. The home currently is zoned residential.

It will be the board of zoning appeals’ job to hear the case and make a ruling. The five-member board currently is down one member.

Matthew Morris, who lives next door to the home, said his reaction when he heard about the plans was “utter shock.”

“Why would someone want to put a rehab house in a quiet residential neighborhood where there are children present?” Morris said. “Is there not a more appropriate place, such as in the country or on the highway, where there would be minimal interference with the surrounding neighbors? We are all for rehabilitation and know there is a great need for it; however, this is not the location.”

Roberts said he purchased the home on a sheriff’s sale in September 2017. The churches’ congregations adopted a life transformation program for recovering addicts modeled after Trinity Life Ministry in Crawfordsville, which has been treating addiction since 1982.

The Heart of Addiction curriculum that would be used is focused on “the transformation of the life of the individual through the power and grace of Jesus Christ, not just curing their drug addiction,” Roberts said.

“We think we have our act together concerning this ministry,” he said. “Trinity Life Ministry in Crawfordsville is experiencing 75 percent success in transforming their residents into productive drug-free citizens.”

If approved, House of Hope would serve up to four men after going through an application and interview process, and a resident supervisor would live in the house seven days a week.

While the program is a yearlong process, the men would only be housed for two months, Roberts said.

“Since about 75 percent of individuals leaving prison have no money, only the clothes they are wearing, no food, no transportation or place to live, our first priority is to meet these needs,” he said.

Those leading the program would help the men find employment, and they would be provided transportation to and from work, classes and church. The residents would be escorted to all functions outside the house, including employment.

Residents would be required to attend a church assigned to them, and they would be allowed to visit with family 15 minutes before and after the service. No other contact with family or friends would be permitted through the week or the first 60 days.

All residents also will be tested for drugs when arriving and will be tested weekly. If it’s positive, they will be removed from the program.

Other rules include a 9 p.m. curfew, no visitors except members of the assigned mentor groups, no personal vehicle during the first 60 days, no fraternization with any woman in any capacity and no personal electronic devices for the first 60 days except for wrist watches.

The program’s orientation guide includes more than 30 other policies, rules and guidelines that residents must obey to remain in the program, Roberts said.

“With the rules and guidelines of this program, we will be disappointed if any neighbor would be aware that this program exists on this property and residents of the house would appear any different than the residents of any other property in the area,” Roberts said.

“With the transformation of the soul of individuals in our program, we will strive to have them become model citizens of Brownstown, Indiana,” he said. “We have had enough discussion, procrastination and finger pointing directed at this problem. It is time for action.”

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What: Brownstown Board of Zoning Appeals meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Brownstown Town Hall, 200 W. Walnut St., Brownstown

Who: Open to the public

On the agenda: A public hearing for the request for the use of 480 S. Valley Drive for House of Hope Cycle-Breaking Methodist Ministry, a drug rehabilitation program


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