A company planning a residential substance abuse treatment center near Sunset filed a federal lawsuit this week to strike down a measure by the St. Landry Parish Council to block the facility.
Acadiana Addiction Center alleges that new regulations approved last year by the council for substance abuse centers and similar facilities violate the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, both of which offer protections for recovering addicts and alcoholics.
The company paid $1.6 million in May for a 10-acre complex on Choctaw Road near Sunset that includes a 4,279-square-foot home, two large outbuildings and a pond.
But plans to open a 52-bed residential treatment facility there were halted after nearby residents successfully petitioned the Parish Council to pass regulations in August that blocked the project.
Acadiana Addiction Center still owns the property, said New Orleans attorney Brent Barriere, who is representing in the company.
“They are basically on hold pending this litigation,” he said.
The measure approved by the Parish Council applies to a wide range of treatment centers and medical facilities, including substance abuse clinics, nursing homes, halfway houses, general hospitals and mental health centers.
The new regulations did not single out Acadiana Addiction Center’s planned treatment center, but based on the discussions at council meetings, that company’s facility was clearly a target.
Any of the facilities listed in the measure are now required to secure the written approval of 75 percent of residential property owners within 1,000 feet of planned facility and the OK of the Parish Council and the parish president.
The listed facilities also are prohibited from locating within 1,000 feet of a bar or other business selling alcoholic beverages, a condition that would apply to Acadiana Addiction Center’s planned center because a bar is located within 1,000 feet of the property.
St. Landry Parish President Bill Fontenot could not be reached Thursday for comment on the case.
Local regulations in other areas that have singled out substance abuse treatment centers have been struck down under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
As recently as 2013, a federal judge ruled that Baton Rouge city officials discriminated against recovering alcoholics and drug addicts in attempts to keep group recovery homes out of residential neighborhoods.
“The patients of the facility are considered to be disabled persons, and the ordinance facially discriminates against Acadiana (Addiction Center) and the patients it serves,” attorneys for the company wrote in court filings.