Despite opposition, zoning board approves drug treatment facility

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Park Center treatment facility planned for the northeast side of Fort Wayne is not a done deal, but it’s one step closer to getting rezoned so it can happen. Neighbors opposed to this plan will follow it along the way.

The land needs to be rezoned to C1 which would allow a drug treatment facility. The Plan Commission will consider that later this month. Wednesday night the Board of Zoning Appeals approved a special exception to allow the space to not only be used for drug treatment, but court ordered drug treatment.

Dozens of people showed up to speak against the plan to put the court ordered drug treatment facility in the long-time vacant Verizon building on Rupp Drive east of Coliseum Boulevard. Their main concern is safety. However, police and Park Center officials said the community will be more safe with more drug addicts receiving help.

Park Center officials told the Board of Zoning Appeals Wednesday night the plan is to have the treatment facility as an alternative to jail. Police also spoke at the meeting and said judges are inundated with cases because of the opiate epidemic, and they need other options rather than jail to get some people on the right path. The facility would not be a lock up which made neighbors question if patients coming and going would put safety in jeopardy.

The plan is to have two security guards there around the clock, and possibly a police outpost nearby. For neighbors who support the plan that is good enough.

“As I listened to the representatives from Park Center tonight I was reassured personally that they have the security concerns addressed,” William Jewell, a neighbor who supports the plan, said.

“This facility that we uncovered tonight will house felons, drug addicted felons, and that’s the questions of safety that has to be answered,” James Cox, a neighbor who opposes the plan said.

Only two members of the public spoke in favor of the plan.

Even if the Plan Commission approves to recommend the rezone it will still have to go to City Council for final approval.