Emery: drug rehab next door in the Town of Paradise Valley?

Up until two weeks ago I never would have expected to be writing anything like this.

Gary Emery

On the evening of June 1 I opened my mail to find a formal notice — the first — that my next door neighbor at 7102 E. Sunnyvale Road was proposing to convert his residence into a 10-person, live-in commercial drug rehab treatment center.

It informed me and only eight of my neighbors that a hearing before a single hearing officer was to occur in quick order just three business days later, the results of which could totally change the character of my neighborhood, potentially your neighborhood next, and that of our great town. The idea of due process is not being served by these facts.

As you might imagine, I was shocked that our neighbor would be so unneighborly to decide to even entertain such an incompatible use. Like everyone in Paradise Valley, we love our town for its protection of our one home-per-acre residential character. A neighbor immediately hired a lawyer and at least got this monumentally consequential hearing put off for a few weeks. At that same time, Tom Hopkins my neighbor and the owner of 7102 E. Sunnyvale Road, was informed by letter that any such use constitutes a “business” and would therefore be a violation of our deed restrictions, which covers a much larger area and not just the eight that received notice.

Cleverly the applicant, Blue Sands Recovery Center, LLC and presumably Tom Hopkins decided to file for this use at a time when the hearing would be held in the middle of summer, a time when out-of-state owners are not here and when full-time residents are on vacation.

They also seem to be doing all they can to rush this hearing along giving us now effectively eight business days to prepare a response to a case that could dramatically affect our lifestyle, property values and future as well as set a precedent to do the same to you.

Their proposal is to have 10 strangers living there for as short as 30 days at a time so potentially 120 strangers inserted into our quiet residential area with young children adjacent to this treatment center full of what Blue Sands own application refers to as persons who chronically relapse.

It seems Thomas Hopkins will lease the home to this commercial business operator as an alternative to his struggle to sell the home, which he first listed two years ago leaving his former neighbors to deal with any problems this will create. Ironic in that Mr. Hopkins very public career at Tom Hopkins International is based upon his expertise as a real estate salesman and trainer of sales people, and author of many books on the subject.

Blue Sands claims that ADA and Fair Housing laws allow for this to open next door regardless of zoning, the rights of me and my neighbors and the deed restrictions, which puts your deed restrictions/CC&R’s/protections at risk as well. They must also show that there is a need for such a rehab facility in the area, which need is not already met.

In fact there are 25 rehab choices within a 15 minute drive of this proposed location. Another test they must meet is to show that this facility will not fundamentally change the character of the area. Their argument that this business will not fundamentally alter the character of the neighborhood is laughable.

Still another is if the area has the infrastructure to support the use. No way can our narrow residential street handle this nor can the property accommodate the parking demands on site for all the clients, staff and treatment professional who will come and go to provide the many supplemental therapies as outlined in Blue Sands’ application.

We believe we have the right to have far more notice and that more interested parties than eight must be notified to prepare for a fair hearing that could so dramatically change our lives on Sunnyvale and the entire town. This high intensity commercial use cannot be allowed. It’s incompatible with our quiet street and is not needed in this location.

I am not saying Blue Sands potential clients do not deserve treatment and respect and proper housing should they wish to live in our town before, during or after treatment for their disorders but plopping a business in the heart of a residential neighborhood that would routinely house each day at least twice as many people and in many cases as many as 5 times as many people in a single home as our neighbors is not a reasonable accommodation. Alternatives exist. I urge Mr. Hopkins to withdraw this application and I urge readers to come to the hearing 8 a.m. June 27 at Town Hall as well as immediately email town council.

Our fate otherwise is in the hearing officers hands.

Editor’s note: Mr. Emery is a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley

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