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UPDATE (5/4/22): The zoning commission approved the Overdose Lifeline Recovery Home with a 7-1 vote.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Some Indy residents are expressing concerns over a proposed women’s recovery center opening up in their neighborhood on Winthrop Avenue. Despite a public meeting, some neighbors feel the decisions up to this point have happened without enough awareness for neighbors.

“It is my understanding that the way things have been handled are legal, but I certainly feel that they are unethical,” Dr. Ami Rice said. “That’s partially why I feel like attention should be brought to this matter of the process. They essentially disenfranchised my whole zone 6.”

Rice said her area of the south Broad Ripple neighborhood did not know an online meeting with the petitioner, Overdose Lifeline, Inc., was happening with the Meridian Kessler Land Use Association. Rice said a neighbor told her it was scheduled.

“Oh, there’s a meeting and you have to be there but I need your email because you have to have an email invite to attend this Webex meeting,” Rice said of her neighbor.

The petitioner must prove they notified people properly. Rice said the Dinsmore Group which represents Overdose Lifeline did send out mailers alerting neighbors of a Feb. 28 meeting with the Metropolitan Development Commission’s Hearing Examiner. She filed for an automatic continuance which pushed the hearing back to today.

Then, a council member for the district filed for another continuance which was granted. The examiner hearing for this proposal is now set for April 14.

This issue led FOX59 to look into what options residents have when voicing their opinions about a proposal impacting their neighborhood.

According to city rules, a petitioner must alert the Metropolitan Development Commission of a desire to make a change. The Commission gives a 23-day notice of a public hearing. State statute requires the petitioner to notify two properties away via mail, registered neighborhood groups, and the city-county councilor.

It is up to the neighborhood groups if they want to engage in the process.  

A notice is also printed in the newspaper two weeks prior and an orange sign is posted on each street side of the property. All zoning changes must be approved by the Metropolitan Development Commission and the city-county council.

Residents are encouraged to come to public hearings. They can also reach out to the petitioners whose contact information is posted on the notice. The city said the petitioner is not required to meet with neighbors, but they are encouraged to do so.

Residents are able to submit any concerns over email to dmdpubliccomments@indy.gov.

Proposed Women’s Recovery Residence Program

The Overdose Lifeline says this recovery home would aim to help women, women who are pregnant and mothers who are struggling with substance use disorder. ODL said it will provide housing with a mandatory 30-day still period, and each resident will work with a care coordinator.

“We will be a house where women live, no different than the house across the street,” said Justin Phillips, founder and executive director. “We will be good neighbors. We will not be bothering people. We are women who are looking for recovery and support. “

Rice said she is concerned this home is located too close to too many bars.

“Setting them up in an area like this where they’re surrounded by 10 bars all within a 1.5 mile radius, active drug trafficking, is basically sabotaging their recovery,” Rice said.

But, Phillips said places selling alcohol are open everywhere across the city.

“You know what, there’s liquor in grocery stores and gas stations,” Phillips said. “There are liquor stores on every corner essentially so that’s just not something to consider as a negative.”

Rice also said some neighbors are concerned over the medications that will be housed inside the house.

“If you have a month’s supply of methadone and suboxone for 20 people concentrated at this small house built in 1925 how with a safe do they intend to really secure this treasure trove of street drugs,” Rice questioned.

Phillips said she would not elaborate on the women’s personal information.

“We are not going to interfere with any HIPAA violations of a relationship between a woman who’s in our house and her doctor,” Phillips said. “We are not a methadone or suboxone clinic. There is one of those at 46th and Keystone. That is not who we are and zoning would never permit that, nor would the law.”

Now, the petitioner and opponents of this facility have a few weeks to discuss the proposal before the next hearing with the hearing examiner.