MODESTO — The city's Board of Zoning Adjustment has approved a drug and alcohol treatment center's request to operate a facility in the 800 block of Maze Boulevard, across the street from Franklin Elementary School in west Modesto.
The Nirvana Drug and Alcohol Treatment Institute plans to open a 19-bed inpatient treatment center for women in a two-story, six-bedroom Maze Boulevard house. The project had faced stiff opposition from neighbors who feared the center would hurt property values and be a magnet for crime and drugs.
But only three neighbors spoke against the project during Thursday's zoning board meeting. The board voted 6-0 to grant Nirvana a conditional use permit to operate the facility. Board Chairman Ryan Swehla recused himself because he is board president of a church near the proposed treatment center.
The permit's conditions include:
That Nirvana have only women at the center
That a new permit would be required if Nirvana stopped operations and another treatment center wanted to move in
That Nirvana build a 7-foot-tall fence around the back yard. The fence must run the entire length of the home's eastern property line. Additionally, Nirvana must install screening by the raised backyard spa.
Nirvana must do additional checks to make sure no clients are registered sex offenders. Nirvana officials agreed to the condition but added they already screen for sex offenders.
Nirvana officials said their tentative plan is to open the Maze Boulevard site in February. They have signed a five-year lease for the home.
Nirvana has operated a 12-bed women's inpatient treatment center for eight years out of two small houses that sit on the same lot on Alice Street, in an older residential area near College Avenue. It plans to relocate and expand its Alice Street operations to the Maze home.
Nirvana did not need a conditional use permit for the 12-bed center. Nirvana is licensed by the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs. A department spokeswoman has said there are no open or closed complaints against the treatment center. Alice Street residents have praised Nirvana for being a good neighbor.
Nirvana officials faced strong opposition from Maze Boulevard neighbors when Nirvana first appeared before the zoning board in mid-November. At the board's request, Nirvana held a public workshop in late November to explain the project and allay neighbors' concerns.
Opponents have 15 days from the zoning decision to file an appeal, which would be heard by the City Council. It costs $200 to file an appeal.