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Residents, officials oppose potential drug rehab facility

November 30, 2018

Local municipal officials and residents are pushing back on a potential bid to locate a drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation center in Pasadena near Taylor Lake Village.

They say the proposed site at 621 Kirby Blvd. is in a family oriented neighborhood and less than a mile from G. W. Robinson Elementary School.

“Our schools are under tremendous pressure from all the risk sources that are out there, and to add a risk source near a school is totally inadvisable,” sid Taylor Lake Village Mayor Jon Keeney, whose city has 1,400 homes and a population of 4,000. “The fence on the back of this property goes directly into Clear Lake Forest residents’ homes. That’s the primary risk.”

But Shane Leonard, CEO of the company considering using the site, Into Action Recovery Centers, said the complaints are premature since the sale has not been finalized for the 6,000-foot building to a Taylor Lake Village investor who he declined to identify. If the sale goes through, Leonard said, the company’s intentions for the site include three options: an all-female residential treatment facility that could house up to 20 clients; an out-patient, all-female treatment center; or an additional corporate office for the company,

“We are strictly in the feasibility period for that location,” he said.

Leonard said if a treatment center were at the site, clients would not pose a danger to the community and would constantly be supervised because of strict state and industry laws regulating drug rehabilitation centers.

“We’re on the upper echelon of treatment facilities,” Leonard said of the company’s Texas Department of State Health Services-licensed centers. “We want our clients have a good experience and to be in a safe neighborhood. These are not ex-convicts; these are housewives and young women, professional women and doctors.

“They wouldn’t be out and about,” he said. “They wouldn’t be walking to the store or hanging out in the front yard.”

Leonard said no one with a conviction of violent crimes or sexual offenses would be allowed if a treatment facility were based from the site.

Keeney, Leonard and Pasadena City Councilman Thomas Schoenbein, in whose District H the facility would be located, met Nov. 16 to discuss the residents’ concerns.

“As soon as Mayor Keeney called me, I went to go meet with him. I offered to address the community in a town hall meeting, depending on the use. We will stay in communication,” Leonard said.

“We’re taking into consideration all those factors,” Leonard said of community opposition. “We certainly understand the community concern. We believe we do provide a safe environment, not only for our clients but for the community.”

Said Keeney, “I have full empathy for a need of this type of facility. I’m just opposed to the risk it poses in a virtually 99 percent residential area.”

He and some Taylor Lake Village residents asked Pasadena City Council at a Nov. 20 meeting to deny any applications that might be presented related to the facility.

“I ask you, as a city, to rally around this opposition to make sure our kids stay safe,” said Keeney during the public comment period.

Chris Wojtowicz, president of the Clear Lake Forest Home Owner’s Association, a community of about 800 homes situated between Kirby Boulevard and Armand Bayou Nature Center, told the council that he and his neighbors were concerned about home values as well as safety.

He said he has read reports that home values can fall between 8 percent and 17 percent when a drug treatment center is located nearby.

During the meeting, Pasadena Councilman Don Harrison said he would likely support the Taylor Lake Village residents based on experience in his District C with a drug rehab facility.

“I’m not against all that (drug rehabilitation centers), but I don’t think it should disrupt the residents of that community, because it did mine,” Harrison said. “Crime rates went up, they were walking through the subdivision. I had more complaints for several years of that one establishment, and I feel like they need to not put it there by the residents.

“Good luck to you and I’ll probably support you on it,” he told the residents.

Schoenbein said Nov. 30 that he will back Keeney and residents in their push to keep the rehab center out.

“I do not support this facility as far as the location,” he said. “They’re going to have to go through our ordinance and variance process, and I will not support any variances for that project.”

An online petition circulating since Nov. 18 under the name Concerned Citizens of Taylor Lake Village & Pasadena had 659 signatures by midday Nov. 30.

“Bringing recovering addicts to such a small neighborhood setting, far from medical facilities, poses many problems,” reads the petition at https://bit.ly/2DUUTgj, citing concern about crime, children’s safety and home values.

Into Action Recovery Centers has a residential treatment center at 17250 El Camino Real and an out-patient treatment center at 17337 El Camino Real. The outpatient facility opened in 2010 and the other one opened later. There is also a medically supervised detox center at that complex, Leonard said.

“We follow strict guidelines as a part of our licensure requirements,” Leonard said. “We’re bound by (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to protect our clients safety and provide privacy.”

Into Action, which has a website at www.intoactionrecovery.com/, is accredited through the nonprofit Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

A spokeswoman for Clear Creek ISD said Nov. 29 that a letter from Superintendent Greg Smith was being developed in opposition to the possible rehab center.

Leonard, who said he was a resident of nearby Lakepointe Forest for many years, was not willing to speculate on the likelihood that the company would open a facility in Taylor Lake Village.

“If we chose to move forward, we would make the appropriate notices,” he said. “We’re still taking all these things into consideration. It certainly weighs heavily in our decision to move forward. I couldn’t tell you if we’re 10 percent or 100 percent going to go for it.”

jaimy.jones@chron.com

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