Monday, March 20, 2023

Stonewater Expansion Request Tabled by Lafayette County Supervisors

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

alyssa.schnugg@hottytoddy.com

Despite a recommendation from the Lafayette County Planning Commission to approve a request from Stonewater Adolescent Addiction Recover Center to expand, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors wasn’t convinced and tabled the request Monday morning.

The center is seeking a conditional use permit to expand its campus on County Road 362. They wish to build a new dormitory that would house 16 additional patients, a cafeteria and a recreational facility. The center currently can house 16 juveniles. If granted the center could take up to 32 patients.

Stonewater is located on 62 acres and treats adolescents 12 to 17 years old who are struggling with substance abuse and addiction.

The center has been denied approval to expand in the past due to concerns about some of the young patients running away from the center, referred to as “elopements.”

Those concerns remain, however, the center has reduced the number of elopements in the last three years by 75 percent, some of the supervisors said: “one is too many.”

When the Planning Commission granted its approval last month, they added five additional conditions to their approval – Stonewater would need to implement a text message system to alert police and neighbors if a child left the facility; participate in drug and alcohol educational programs at area schools; develop a recovery team to deal with patients who leave the facility; and construct an 8-foot high fence around the property that would be gated.

Supervisor David Rikard said the Board received the 2,000-page packet requesting the conditional use permit just a few days ago and that he needed more time to review the documents. He made the motion to table.

Supervisors Chad McLarty and Brent Larson voted “no” against tabling the discussion as they were ready to vote on the matter. Both supervisors said they still had a lot of concerns regarding security and did not think they were being addressed adequately by Stonewater. McLarty suggested the center hire onsite security guards.

Bryan Fikes, the owner of Stonewater, said a security guard didn’t make sense since the patients are often separated into groups and in different areas of the 62-acre property.

“Our elopements have decreased significantly, even as our census increased,” he told the Board.

The vote to table the discussion was approved 3 to 2 by the supervisors.