Anderson approves drug rehab clinic despite concerns from neighbors

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ANDERSON, Ind. — The City of Anderson voted to approve a new recovery clinic in town, but not without resistance from nearby residents.

In a unanimous vote, the Anderson Board of Appeals hurdled the final obstacle in putting a new recovery clinic in Madison County on the site of the former Sonrise Retreat Center.

“This wasn't about winning for us, this was about an opportunity to fulfill our mission, which is to be of service to the people who need our services,” said Executive Director of Progress House Darrell Mitchell.

Progress House and Aspire Indiana plan to turn the 13-acre retreat center into a nearly 100-bed rehab facility. However, neighbors who live nearby say it doesn’t belong there, and they have been fighting it for months.

“Our stance all along is that this is a much-needed facility, we just didn’t want it in our residential area,” said homeowner and HOA President Don Burrell.

Those against the project say there are over 200 homes within a mile radius of the site. On top of home values, they worry about safety and security.

"This is going to change our way of life. The way we raise our kids, the way we have people over, if we go to sell our house," said homeowner Shawn Clemons. “No one is going to want to move in next to a 100 bedroom rehab. No one will.”

Aspire and Progress House say this location is their best option. The facility is in great condition with lots of space and can be ready soon. They say no one with sex crimes or violent crimes will be admitted, and roughly 50 security cameras will be added.

“We understand their fears, the job now is becoming part of that neighborhood,” Apsire's President and CEO Barbara Scott said after the vote.

The organizations say the center will fill a big need in Anderson by serving people who couldn’t normally afford this type of treatment.

“There's a dire need for this, and the key word is dying, because people are out there dying,” said one supporter of the site who is also a person in recovery.

Those in recovery along with the Madison County sheriff spoke in support of the project. Neighbors upset with the outcome hope their fears don’t come true.

"We know that this is needed in our community, we gave them other options in the different areas. But we did say if you’re going to put it in our community, give us something. Help us out. Let us feel safe in our houses and make sure our home values don’t depreciate,” Clemons said. "This BZA didn’t even look at one of our conditions, they didn’t grant one condition out of 47.”

The facility is expected to be ready to go by the spring or early summer.

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