ANDERSON — An error in the zoning for the proposed Grace House rehabilitation facility for women is changing the process for city approval.
The Anderson Plan Commission voted to deny a rezoning request for the former Dove Harbor site on Broadway and last month the Anderson City Council voted to overturn the denial through one of the three required readings of the ordinance.
Last week, the Anderson Municipal Development Department informed Grace House attorney Tom Beeman that the Dove Harbor site was zoned properly for a clinic or health center in both 1985 and 1997.
Tim Stires, deputy director of the Municipal Development Department, in an email to Beeman said the prior rezoning was not known to the staff because the zoning maps were not changed.
Stires said the next step by Grace House is to request a special exception from the Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals.
Karl Lazar, owner of Grace House, said Monday they have submitted the request for a special exception to be heard by the Board of Zoning Appeals in June.
In the email, Stires apologized for the mapping error and said it was unnoticed for 12 months because the staff was working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Plan Commission in February voted unanimously to deny the rezoning request expressing concerns about locating a substance abuse rehabilitation center across the street from a liquor store and a tavern, increased traffic and crime and the impact on surrounding property values.
Dove Harbor had operated the facility at 1400 Broadway as a women’s shelter for 25 years, Beeman said in February.
“Grace House has renovated the property with 12 residential units,” Beeman said. “They treated substance abuse at Dove Harbor.
“There is a huge need for a treatment center,” Beeman said. “Studies have shown it works better in residential areas.”
Lazar said the decision was made to only house women at the location.
He said residents would not be enticed to relapse into the use of alcohol because of the proximity to a liquor store and tavern. Lazar said it would be a locked-down facility.
Karen Finnigan said during April’s council meeting that she is a member of Turning Point Madison County which deals with addiction and mental health issues.
“I’m not sure the council members are aware of how bad the addiction problem is in Madison County,” she said. “It would be a travesty to turn down an opportunity for another facility. It will only be a positive for the community.”