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Recovery house parking gets nod

Zoning board approves variance

In a split decision, the city Zoning Hearing Board this week granted a conditional variance for an off-street parking requirement that will allow a church-related drug and alcohol recovery house to continue operating.

The ruling is indirectly connected to the major issue with recovery homes — a yearslong delay in the state’s creation of a regulatory and licensing framework for those facilities.

House operator and Eighteenth Street Community Church Pastor Nathaniel Germany will seek a state license for the facility on the 600 block of Fourth Avenue if and when such a license becomes available, he told the board.

Meanwhile, he’s working through the Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships and Operation Our Town to do what’s necessary to be ready and the application for the variance is part of that, he told the board.

“This is the process, to come to you guys to make sure everything is good,” Germany told the board.

In a 2-1 vote, the board granted the variance waiving the requirement that Germany’s Sanctuary House provide off-street parking spaces for the residents, on the condition that none of the residents own a vehicle.

None of the current five do.

The current residents rely on Amtran or Uber to get where they need to go, including to their workplaces, Germany said.

Germany would need to evict any resident that acquires a car, to ensure against taking up on street parking in the neighborhood, the board ruled.

There were three board members present, with Cory Gehret and Matt Gindlesperger voting in favor of granting the variance and Ted Beam against it.

It wouldn’t be feasible to enforce the prohibition against residents obtaining cars, and parking is at a premium in that densely populated neighborhood, Beam said, explaining the dissent.

The board also required that Germany comply with codes and fire department rulings that could limit the number of residents permitted at the recovery house to a figure lower than the nine Germany would like to see, depending on the size of the bedrooms and other features of the house, officials said.

There are five bedrooms and nine beds in the house, Germany said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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