By Teri Carnicelli
Phoenix’s Board of Adjustment gave the final stamp of approval for a 55-bed drug and alcohol rehab center in Sunnyslope, and property owner and developer Native American Connections (NAC) says it will start construction within the next couple of month.
While the nonprofit NAC already owns the property at 1431 E. Dunlap Ave., which is zoned multi-family residential, a use permit is required for a “community residence center,” sometimes referred to as a sober living home.
The use permit was first approved by a Phoenix zoning administrator on Oct. 15 and the appeal was heard by the Board of Adjustment at its Dec. 6 meeting. Will Rodriguez, whose wife, Teresa Duhancik, filed the appeal, spoke in opposition to the use permit. The couple lives within a few houses of the former Mountain Preserve Reception & Conference Center and also owns several other homes in the neighborhood. Rodriguez said that he and many neighbors were worried about the possible negative effect on their property values.
He also stated the additional traffic would be a burden on the already overwhelmed, residential dead-end street. He expressed concern about potential clients of the rehab center leaving before the program was complete and essentially walking off into the neighborhood.
Representatives of NAC said that while some clients do quit before their program is complete, the majority of the time they have a friend or family member pick them up. Clients also are not permitted to leave a personal vehicle on site, and transportation is provided by NAC to off-site needs, such as doctor’s appointments.
In the end, all five members of the Board of Adjustment agreed that under the current zoning of R-5, the proposed use would in fact be less impactful in terms of noise, traffic, dust and environmental impact than what could be built there, which is upwards of 200 apartments or townhomes.
NAC does, in fact, plan to construct an addition 55-unit, 3-story apartment building, but the use permit was only related to the rehab center. The multifamily housing component is allowed by right under the current zoning.
NAC will remodel two of the existing buildings on site into a 48-bed and 7-bed “dormitory,” respectively, and will construct a new building that will house a dining facility with communal educational and crafting space as well as administrative offices. Work is set to begin by the end of first quarter 2019.