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Alcoholics Support Group Rejects Commission’s Prohibitions

March 30, 1988

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) _ A support group for recovering alcoholics will look elsewhere for a new home after township officials tacked nearly two dozen restrictions on the use of an abandoned schoolhouse the group planned to buy.

The Parkship Township Planning Commission’s special-use permit would have barred more than 35 cars on the site, forbade its occupants from gathering outside and banned alcoholic beverages and ″mood altering substances.″

The support group, the Holland Alano Association, ″finds it impossible to purchase the Ventura School because of the onerous and unfair restrictions placed on the use of the premises,″ Donald Hann, Alano communications secretary, read from a statement after the association’s meeting Tuesday.

The rules were imposed Monday night by the Ottawa County township’s planning commission on a special-use permit sought by the association, which had planned to buy the $59,500 building in a rural area north of here.

The restrictions were approved after several homeowners voiced opposition, contending that the presence of the organization would destroy the peaceful character of the neighborhood.

Hann said the two stipulations that most bothered the association were the ones that prohibited members from using the four acres on which the schoolhouse sits, as well as the one limiting cars in the parking lot.

″We cannot and we will not turn away people seeking help because they happen to arrive in the 36th car,″ said Hann, whose association provides a meeting place for 31 weekly meetings totaling from 250 to 300 people.

Regarding a restriction against gathering outside, Hann said, ″It is highly unusual that owners of property can’t walk about their own property,″ and added that under the restrictions, neighbors would have full use of the grounds, which includes soccer and softball fields and a playground.

John Horsting, chairman of the ad hoc committee formed by the commission to propose the restrictions, said the committee’s decision was a tough one.

″The restrictions were very seriously addressed,″ said Horsting. ″Our first responsibility is to the township and to the people of the township.″

He declined further comment.

Hann said the Alano Association, which provides a meeting site for six alcohol groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, will bgin searching for a new building immediately. Its lease on a decaying warehouse expires May 1.

″If we don’t find a place by that time, we lock our doors,″ Hann said. ″We thought an abandoned schoolhouse in the country would be ideal for us, but I guess we were wrong.″

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