MODESTO — The City Council denied Tuesday night the request of several residents that it stop a residential drug and alcohol treatment center from moving into 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.
Five residents who live on Owl Court behind the proposed treatment center appealed the zoning board's decision to the council. With little discussion, council members voted 7-0 to deny the appeal.
But not before three of the Owl Court residents voiced their frustrations. They complained that the center would create too much noise, rob them of their privacy (some of the residents' back yards abut the treatment center's back yard) and the enjoyment of their homes.
"Our neighborhood don't need it," Owl Court homeowner Al Brewer said.
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 the two-story, six-
bedroom Maze Boulevard home.
Tuesday night's opposition was a far cry from what Nirvana faced a few months ago.
About two dozen Maze Boulevard-area residents complained at an earlier zoning board meeting about Nirvana moving into the neighborhood. They feared the treatment center would attract crime and drugs and would lower property values.
But over the weeks as Nirvana officials explained how they operate and Alice Street residents praised Nirvana for being an excellent neighbor, opposition lessened.
In granting Nirvana a permit, the zoning board imposed 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.
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.
The City Council modified one condition by stating the backyard fence must by 8 feet high.
Nirvana officials have said that unlike sober- living halfway houses, Women of Hope is licensed by the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs. A department spokeswoman said late last year that there were no open or closed complaints against the treatment center.
The residents typically stay at Women of Hope for 45 to 60 days. Their days are defined by structure and routine: group therapy sessions, chores and being driven to and from 12-step recovery meetings. They are regularly tested for drugs and alcohol. Nirvana removes women who test positive.
Nirvana Executive Director Dane Helding has said Women of Hope is the only licensed, women-only residential treatment center in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. He has said the Maze Boulevard site could open in 45 to 60 days.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.