By Ris Twigg
Two applicants have come to the Greater Hilltop Area Commission meetings over the last several months looking to propose two separate for-profit addiction recovery centers in the Hilltop.
One applicant is simply seeking a letter of support from the commission for their project, but declined to return to this month’s meeting for the commission’s approval.
The other applicant, after bringing the idea to the November zoning committee meeting, has no-showed their zoning hearing during full commission meetings at least twice, leaving several residents with concerns over representation.
“I will not be able to attend the next meeting,” one resident said during the Feb. 4 meeting. “I just want to speak up because my right to vote or express myself is actually being damaged by this person repeatedly scheduling and not showing up.”
Commissioners also spoke to the lack of follow-through from the zoning applicant.
“This is totally unfair to the people that showed up tonight. Something has to be done,” Geoffrey Phillips, a Hilltop commissioner, said during the meeting. “It’s a for-profit corporation. They are making money off this enterprise and our neighborhood.”
Residents and commissioners alike debated ideas for amending the commission’s bylaws to make sure zoning applicants show up when their project is put on the agenda as well as ways to ensure the community can be alerted when a zoning applicant is no longer able to attend the hearing.
The commission voted to table a vote on the proposed recovery center project.
Scott Stockman, vice chairman of the commission, said the project itself wasn’t “totally clear” from the start.
The applicant brought the for-profit recovery center to the November zoning committee meeting in 2019. Then, after failing to attend the zoning hearing for the project during the full December commission meeting, the applicant hired a new consulting company to represent the project.
“They’re just working out what they’re trying to present to us. So there’s a little bit of going back to the drawing board,” Stockman said. “They called me before the meeting started without a lot of notice and just said that they weren’t able to come here tonight and make the presentation.”
Stockman added that the applicant had emailed him on Sunday to inform the commission they would present the project during the full commission meeting.
The proposed addiction recovery center would house up to 19 people at once. The applicant is looking to locate the center at 2456 W. Broad St.
“It’s not entirely clear. That’s why we have a zoning committee and then following it up right away with a full committee hearing,” Stockman said. “But the delay is causing more clarity issues.”