Monday, September 26, 2022

Supervisors Deny Appeal for Expansion of Stonewater Recovery Center

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor
talbert.toole@hottytoddy.com

The Lafayette County Supervisors denied the appeal from Stonewater Recovery Tuesday night regarding the expansion of their center. Photo by Talbert Toole.

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors denied an appeal by Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center to expand its space from 16 to 170 beds Tuesday night after residents from an adjacent neighborhood expressed grievances for safety and protection.

Chris Latimer, an attorney at Mitchell, McNutt and Sams, represented the recovery center before the board. The center originally appeared before the Lafayette County Planning Commission in Nov. 2017 for the same expansion of bed spaces; however, the commission denied that request, as well.

Latimer said the planning commission members felt like the expansion of the center was happening very quickly because of the lack of a complete plan.

“[The commission] was concern about the safety of not only residents [in the area], but who might be residents of the facility,” Latimer said.

The center serves as a treatment facility for adolescents between the ages of 12 to 16 years old who have succumbed to addiction or mental health issues, according to Brian Wind, director of clinical strategy at the center.

Supervisor Kevin Frye asked Wind how long adolescent residents remain in treatment at Stonewater.

Wind said the recovery time is 90 days at Stonewater, due to a neurodevelopment standpoint. The 90-day treatment time allows adolescents to learn and maintain multiple ways to avoid and overcome addiction, he said.

Adolescents still have neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment—according to Wind. The 90-day period gives those residents the chance to allow neuroplasticity to take place.

“Everybody thinks treatment is 28 days because they saw the Sandra Bullock movie,” Wind said. “It’s not true.”

In Nov. 2017, the site plan that was brought to the planning commission was a preliminary plan, not a final plan, according to Latimer. The plan was for a maximum of 10 dormitories.

Latimer said this plan would call to cap the bed spaces each year, limiting additional bed spaces to 16 per year.

“Four years from now that would be a total of 80 beds,” Latimer said, “which would be less than half that was purposed.”

The reason for the capping of bed spaces was to present the board with a sustainable plan for growth, he said, and a reason why the center took time to appeal the planning commission’s decision. Officials at the center believe the more beds it has it can accommodate more adolescents who seek treatment.

During the planning commission meeting in 2017, members expressed concerns for safety after multiple claims that the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department had been called six times since the center had opened due to residents leaving the facility’s campus.

After hearing from Latimer, Wind, and a mother of a child who had attended the center, the board opened the floor to the audience in which residents of the community expressed many of those same concerns regarding the expansion.

Susan Vaughan, a resident of the area, said in late February while she was home alone early in the morning her alarm system went off for the first time. Nervous and afraid, Vaughan grabbed her loaded gun and was ready to defend herself. Although the situation revealed to be a false alarm, Vaughan expressed concern if the situation had been different.

Susan Vaughan, a resident of the Clear Creek Baptist Church and resident of the area, expressed to the board the facility needs to protect the residents who attend the treatment center. Photo by Talbert Toole.

She said if one of the residents at Stonewater had been an intruder during the incident, she would have to live with the memory of killing a child to defend herself in her own home.

Vaughan addressed the situation directly to the mother who earlier gave her testimony to the board regarding her son’s recovery process at Stonewater.

“If your son had looked for a safe haven at my house at 5 a.m. in the morning with a loaded .38… with the trigger ready to pull, we could be talking about an entirely different situation right now,” Vaughan said. “I could have to live for the rest of my life that I protected my self, my home, with my right to do so…a child’s life could have been taken.”

The vote was unanimous to deny Stonewater’s appeal.

The board also denied an appeal by Stonewater on a zoning verification issue decision by Building Official Joel Hollowell.  


 

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