Operation of New Adam’s House approved by county

Building permit still needed for new facility

New Adam’s House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center being proposed by the Oh Be Joyful Church, found new life of its own outside Crested Butte town limits when the Gunnison County Planning Commission said plans for the facility could move forward without any more county review.

 

 

 

At a work session on Friday, July 24, pastor Jim Kunes told the Planning Commission that New Adam’s House could hold as many as 12 men in the later stages of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction in a residential setting at a home to be built one mile south of Crested Butte.
The property, which will still have to go through the county’s building permit process, had been approved for residential use and the Planning Commission was trying to decide if the proposal required a land use change under the county’s Land Use Resolution (LUR).
With documents supporting his argument piled in front of him, Kunes explained that in a five-stage system of recovery, the first three stages are clinical in nature, requiring medical staff and sometimes medication.
New Adam’s House, however, would fit into a fourth, non-clinical stage, where “clients” will transition back into society, “so we have no clinical staff. The directive would not be clinical by nature but by experience and supervision and direct involvement in the programs,” he said.
Clients at the facility would pay only about $600 a month, or enough to cover their rooms, and pay nothing for the services being offered. Those costs, Kunes said, would be covered by the church, grants and donations to the facility.
Planning Commission chairman Ian Billick was the first to say what others on the Planning Commission were thinking: “The operation is not commercial.”
Kunes also pointed out that the International Building Code, which the county planners subscribe to, specifically says that facilities “mainstreaming people who are recovering from alcohol or drug addiction” should be considered residential in nature.
Commissioner Richard Karas agreed and turned to the LUR for guidance.
“I was looking at the definition of commercial in the LUR and I’m also not sure that the facility being proposed applies. Commercial means … the retail or wholesale sale of goods or services. If I understand it, I think the only services being offered are this kind,” Karas said, clasping his hands together as if in prayer.
Although the commission agreed that New Adam’s House wasn’t commercial, it wasn’t clear that the facility should be considered as residential, either.
“Staff wrestled with this question and … I don’t think it is commercial, either,” assistant planning director Neal Starkebaum said. “I do think this is residential but I also think there is a distinction between single-family residential and an extended care treatment program for 12 unrelated adults.”
Karas responded, saying, “It could be 12 unrelated roommates renting a house together to save money. It didn’t say families in the original proposal that we approved and I would have a really hard time making a distinction between that and what is proposed here.”
Acknowledging that there is a distinction to be made, Billick said, “This may reveal the LUR isn’t as complete as it should be.”
The Planning Commission agreed that the LUR lacks a regulation specific to the proposal and could not come closer than residential to a classification for New Adam’s House. They voted to take no action and allow the church to move forward with the building permit process.
“We’re elated and excited by the decision,” Kunes said after the ruling. “Now the fun starts.”
After a building permit is secured from the county, the house that stands on the property now will be removed and construction of the triplex, with two two-bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom apartment, will start.

A relationship in the making

Oh Be Joyful Church came across the home and property after an original plan to build the facility near the church, inside the town of Crested Butte, was scrapped because of objections from a portion of the public.
“We never even got to the batter’s box… because of the immediate neighborhood concerns for having such a facility,” Kunes said. To continue “would have been contrary to our purpose as a church and our ministry of reconciliation. To push for something that would create division in the community made no sense, so we backed away.”
When they did, they bumped into an old favor that was about to be repaid by John and Karen Stock, who had found food and comfort at Oh Be Joyful Church after a propane tank at a home they were building exploded a decade ago.
“It was a relationship a long time in the making,” Kunes said. “John and Karen [Stock] have been very gracious in offering their property as a possible site. They’re going to offer a long-term lease to us with an option for renewal if everything proves to be satisfactory.”
The property is on Highway 135 within one mile of Crested Butte and its amenities, which clients of New Adam’s House could easily be transported to or walk to via the Deli trail south of town.
Explaining that clients would be required to hold at least part-time employment and could cover more than half of the facility’s $150,000 budget, Kunes said, “This is the perfect place for temporary jobs as a seasonal resort community that seeks and wants seasonal help. So having transitional people with transitional needs for temporary employment fits into the seasonal resort community perfectly.”
Kunes hopes to have the construction of New Adam’s House ready to start next year.

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