Tonight (Wednesday, May 11), Lawrence Township residents will have the continued opportunity to comment and ask further questions about the 38-bed in-patient drug and alcohol detoxification center that has been proposed for a location on Federal City Road.
During the last hearing held April 27 – the sixth hearing held by the zoning board about the proposal since November – both residents and the zoning board members seemed to be at an impasse over what “inherently beneficial” means.
Representatives of Sunrise Detox, the Florida-based company seeking to establish the center, have used that phrase repeatedly as part of their argument that such a facility would serve the community.
The 17,000-square-foot building that Sunrise hopes to use sits at the entrance to the Traditions at Federal Point adult community and directly behind the homes in another development that includes Frederick Court and Karena Lane.
Residents who believe that such a facility should not be located so close to residential neighborhoods have been vocal critics of the proposal.
A land-use variance must be issued by the zoning board before property owner John Simone can legally lease the building to Sunrise for use as a short-term medical center.
Federal City Road resident Marvin Van Hise, seeming to voice to sentiments of several residents, during the April 27 hearing questioned some of the statements made by Thomas Allen, an advocacy director for the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency of New Jersey.
Allen, who testified before the zoning board on behalf of Sunrise’s proposal, stood firm in his position that the proposal detox center would help fill a void caused, he said, by a lack of nearby addiction treatment services.
Also during the April 27 hearing, several zoning board members questioned Sunrise’s plans for a 600-square-foot deck that would be built onto the back of the proposed rehab center.
During previous hearings, several residents voiced concerns about smoking, noise and the possibility of residents leaving the detox center grounds by way of the deck. Sunrise, in turn, responded with a plan that would now completely enclose the deck.
Questions were subsequently raised about whether Sunrise needs to rewrite its application to include the revised deck, which by being enclosed would increase the square-footage of the building and, in turn, require additional parking spaces.
Van Hise called Sunrise’s application “incomplete.”
“What concerns me is that there has been no architect, and we had been told that when the planner gets here he would address the issue of the design and deck, and as far as I’ve seen, the calculations have been wrong, and the documents are not in conformance with the ordinance,” he said.
At the conclusion of the April 27 meeting, when additional hearings were set for tonight and May 25, zoning board Chairman Peter Kremer said that the public can feel free to take the hearings, now in their seventh month, “as long as they want to take it.”
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