MODESTO — The City Council is expected to consider an appeal tonight from four people who want to stop a residential drug and alcohol treatment center from moving in near their west Modesto neighborhood.
The city's Board of Zoning Adjustment granted Nirvana Drug and Alcohol Treatment in December a permit to operate its women's treatment center from a home in the 800 block of Maze Boulevard across the street from Franklin Elementary School.
Four residents who live in Owl Court behind the proposed treatment center filed the appeal to the council.
Nirvana Women of Hope has operated a 12-bed inpatient women's treatment center since 2004 out of two small houses that sit on the same lot on Alice Street, in an older residential area near College Avenue. Nirvana wants to relocate and expand its Alice Street operations to a 19-bed center out of a two-story, six-bedroom house in the 800 block of Maze Boulevard.
More than a dozen potential new neighbors complained at an earlier zoning board meeting about Nirvana relocating to Maze Boulevard. They feared the treatment center would become a magnet for crime, drugs and lower their property values.
But over the weeks as Nirvana officials explained how they operate and their Alice Street neighbors spoke on their behalf, opposition lessened. But a handful of people remained adamantly opposed, saying they did not want to live near a drug treatment center.
The Dec. 20 zoning board vote to grant the permit was 6-0 with Chairman Ryan Swehla not participating because he is board president of a church near the proposed treatment center. But the zoning board addressed neighbors' concerns by imposing these conditions:
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 that they already screen for sex offenders.
City staff has recommended that the City Council deny the four neighbors' appeal. Nirvana Executive Director Dane Helding said Monday that his organization has held off on major work at the Maze location while the appeal is pending.
But he said if the council denies the appeal, Nirvana should open its Maze location in 45 to 60 days.
Nirvana Women of Hope is licensed by the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs. A department spokeswoman said late last year that were no open or closed complaints against the treatment center.
The City Council meets today at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.
MODESTO CITY COUNCIL WATCH
The Modesto City Council meets today at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St. The council is expected to:
Accept the 2012 fourth-quarter travel report for City Council members, the mayor and department directors. The spending totaled $7,764.73. The details: $797.82 for Councilwoman Stephanie Burnside to attend a California Transportation Commission meeting in December in Riverside; $1,179.44 for Human Resources Director Joe Lopez to attend a December California Public Employers Labor Relations Association conference; $2,858.77 for Chief Information Officer Bryan Sastokas to attend an October conference in San Diego and a November event in Boston; and $2,928.70 for Public Works Director Dennis Turner to attend a December training in San Francisco. The amounts include registration fees, travel costs, lodging and meals.
Approve an agreement between the city and Environmental Science Associates for the preparation of an environmental impact report for the Marketplace, a proposed 18-acre shopping center at the southwest corner of Oakdale Road and Sylvan Avenue. The contract is for $157,969.90. Berberian Holdings, the project landowner, is reimbursing the city for the cost of the study. Berberian withdrew the project for council consideration in January to conduct an environmental impact report after homeowners near the project had called for such a review.
Consider directing staff to access the condition and legal implications associated with the city assuming responsibility for the Empire Sanitary District and return to council with a recommendation. Modesto now accepts all waste water from Empire for processing. A staff report says the city has been asked to consider the feasibility of assuming operations of the Empire Sanitary District. The study is expected to cost $5,000.
Hold a hearing on deferring and waiving Capital Facilities Fees for River Vista, a Habitat for Humanity project to build a 21-unit subdivision for low-income homeowners. The fees total more than $295,000 for the project, and staff is recommending the council grant the fee deferrals and exemptions.
Approve an agreement between the city and the Modesto Police Management Association that calls for MPMA members to pay more of the cost of their pensions in exchange for getting a raise sooner. Under the agreement, MPMA members would pay 6.5 percent of the 9 percent of the employee portion of their pensions. They now pay 1.5 percent of the 9 percent. The agreement calls for them to get a 3 percent raise in March instead of in July. Newer MPMA members already are paying the full 9 percent of their pensions under recent pension reforms enacted by the city.