Last week’s preliminary injunction rendered by U.S. District Judge James Brady was disappointing to folks in Westminster Pine Park Subdivision.
Your July 29 article explained that city-parish officials are trying to close two Oxford House homes for women in Westminster and Goodwood Villa (they defy local zoning).
Brady’s ruling stated, “The court is not persuaded that granting the requested accommodations for the Shawn Drive and Drusilla (Lane) homes would unduly burden the city or deform its ordinary zoning authority.”
He also ruled that recovering alcoholics and drug addicts are “handicapped,” so they should qualify for protection under the Fair Housing and Americans With Disabilities acts.
This outrageous ruling threatens local governments, homeowners who live in subdivisions and homeowners who live in areas that are zoned as single-family housing.
I hope public sentiment will erupt and this issue will get the exposure it deserves. Oxford House serves a good purpose for those trying to get their lives back on track. However, there are plenty of areas that are not zoned single-family residential where they can (and should) locate. Ruling these addicts and alcoholics to be “handicapped” is a colossal blunder.
I am not heartless to recovering alcoholics and drug addicts who are trying desperately to get back on their feet. I have helped friends and family who have struggled to break the power of addiction. I have lost close friends to addiction — it is heartbreaking.
Nonetheless, Oxford House is totally misdirected in its mission when it disobeys local laws, and it does not deserve the right to defy local zoning regulations by establishing halfway houses in family neighborhoods.
My friends who are recovering from addiction would surely agree with me, but those who profit from establishing these homes in family neighborhoods would surely not agree — and why would they?
These opportunists deliberately purchase homes and assign them to Oxford House to make more profit per square foot (with a group home) than the standard rental market can offer them.
What’s more, they have endless streams of tenants who are guaranteed by Oxford House. It is inevitable that they will damage our property values in this process and take some houses out of commerce altogether when owners try to sell. Where is the justice in that?
I compliment my civic association, the Planning Commission and the parish attorney for having the gumption to stand up to the federal government and oppose Oxford House in Westminster-Pine Park and elsewhere. Brady’s decision is poor judgment that could lead to many negative and far-reaching repercussions.
telecom consultant and landman