Dear Alpharetta Mayor Gilvin, Office of Zoning and Planning, Council Members, and Planning Commission:
We are writing to express our strong OBJECTION to MP-21-03 / CU-21-05 Advanced Recovery Systems LLC Drug Rehabilitation Center, the proposed Consideration of a master plan amendment and conditional use TO ALLOW A 62-BED DRUG REHABILITATION CENTER for Advanced Recovery Systems, LLC.
Nearly all residents in the surrounding neighborhoods are completely opposed to the amendment of the current zoning.
When it comes to home value, the age-old belief has been all about location, location, location. However, just as important as location is what is in the neighborhood. Before buying our homes, we did our due diligence. We are not wealthy people; many of us live paycheck to paycheck. We searched for homes in the best neighborhoods we could afford, with the best schools, hospitals, fire and police departments. We checked the zoning of the commercial properties around us. We were relieved to see that Alpharetta zoning had the zoning classification of this property as O-I (Office-Institutional). So we bought our homes, which for most of us is our biggest investment. We need your assistance in protecting residents from having a Drug Rehab Center operating in their backyards. This property was wisely zoned to keep such businesses out of residential areas. Families choose their homes believing that Alpharetta zoning was protecting their investment and their families. Allowing a multi-million dollar company to amend the zoning is irresponsible. There are other properties zoned for this type of business, which do not share a property line with residential properties or are in walking distance from an elementary and middle school.
Here are some photos of the homes from the parking lot of the proposed drug rehab center. Some homes have no fences and are only a few feet from this facility. There is nothing in writing but during the zoom meeting, there was conversation by a resident of the possibility of Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS) putting up a fence. In following up with Senior Planner Mike Woodman, he mentioned fencing along two sides of the property along the residential property lines. A fence that is not around the entire property would not keep anybody in or out.
View of the building from a neighbor’s house.
Both lighted windows are from the proposed rehab center.
During the 4/14/21 zoom call, one of the ARS representatives described the Drug Rehab Center as “a good neighbor”. We have to ask: Is a good neighbor someone who has a revolving door of 62 addicts that are replaced monthly, weekly or even daily? Does a good neighbor have 62 addicts on supervised smoke breaks outside our backyards throughout the day? Do good neighbors need to have their cars and cellphones taken away from them? Do good neighbors need to be locked inside all day except for smoke breaks? Further, there are no outside facilities at this location for recovering addicts to do anything but sit and smoke. Will they just be locked up all day or is ARS planning to add outside recreational areas for residents to get some exercise? Is it safe for our children to play in the woods behind our own homes with residents that need to be locked in and supervised when outside? Will they overhear inappropriate conversations? With the previous tenant, a memory care facility, we did not worry about the residents trying to escape or smell cigarette smoke all day. Conversations out on the patio were at a very low volume and if you were in your yard and could hear them, they were family friendly. Residents stayed for years not just short term. They were great neighbors. For those of us who chose to, we were able to go visit and get to know the residents in the memory care facility.
IMPACT ON HOMES NEARBY: A study has found that residential substance abuse treatment centers in a neighborhood can have an adverse impact on nearby homes. The study used MLS data to support the position that facilities can potentially hamper nearby values.
While centers treating alcohol and substance abuse are more frequently being located within residential neighborhoods, more property owners are making a stand. They contend that the recovering addicts could bring higher crime risk to their community.
Researchers Claire Reeves La Roche, Bennie D. Waller, and Scott A. Wentland at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., conducted the study using MLS data from central Virginia to estimate the impact of substance abuse treatment centers on nearby home values. https://0e9fc465-b7e9-4030-b244-9896f7f44a38.filesusr.com/ugd/d3c709_c6bc5d15570a4284a8b933dc829c0704.pdf
Their research found that homes located within an eighth of a mile from a treatment center on average had an 8 percent drop in value when stacked up against comparable homes that are farther away. The discount is magnified even more when the treatment centers are for those that specifically treat opiate addiction, which includes addictions to heroin or morphine. In those cases, home values are reduced by up to 17 percent, researchers found. Homes sold for approximately 6 percent or 5 percent less if they were located within 0.15 miles or 0.175 miles of a rehab center, respectively.
To bring that in perspective, 8 percent of a $350,000 home is a loss of $28,000 for each homeowner. And 17% is $59,500. These families do not deserve this. When we looked for a home we only looked at residential listings, we did not look at commercial listings and expect to have them rezoned for us. When we looked for properties for our businesses, we did not look at properties that were not already zoned for our businesses and expect the zoning to be changed for us. Drug rehab centers are needed, there are properties already zoned for drug rehab centers. We are asking that Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS) look at properties zoned for their business already instead of asking to amend the current zoning, which prohibits them from running a drug rehab center on that property.
We were also disappointed that only 92 or so notices were mailed to residents. These seem to only be to the properties that directly share a property line with the facility and that none were delivered to our neighborhood HOAs, who could have informed all of the residents in time for them to attend the first Zoom meeting on April 14.
We urge you to deny the proposed amendment to the current zoning. From recent meetings and discussions with our neighbors, we know our opinions are shared by many who have not yet been able to attend meeting or write letters and emails. This is due to the fact that they were not informed by ARS, leaving the responsibility to reach the other residents impacted by this on the shoulders of the few residents who received and actually read the letter.
Thank you for your continued service and support of our communities and for your assistance in protecting these families and their investment.