County to hear appeal from halfway house

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Herb Coon, the owner of the property converted for use as a halfway house for recovering alcoholics, has appealed the county&squo;s decision. The Polk County Zoning Board of Adjustment will hear the appeal at a meeting on Tuesday, March 4. The meeting is scheduled to take place at the Womack Building on Courthouse Street in Columbus at 4 p.m.Coon had made plans to open the only halfway house in Polk County in a residential area off Peniel Road. The house, located on 6.29 acres in the county&squo;s Multiple Use zoning district, has six beds plus an apartment area for a manager. The facility, called Herb&squo;s House, planned to charge a weekly fee to residents, who must be clean and sober for at least the past 30 days or come directly from an in-patient facility. Coon said he would not accept anyone with a history of violent crimes, and any residents who use drugs or alcohol while at Herb&squo;s House would be expelled.Coon said his halfway house would help recovering alcoholics transition back to a functioning role in society.But some neighbors complained that the facility is not appropriate for a residential neighborhood, and shared their concerns with the county.The county&squo;s zoning administrator denied a zoning permit on the grounds that a halfway house is not listed in the county&squo;s permitted use table, and doesn&squo;t closely resemble any permitted uses.According to the zoning board, Coon has said a zoning permit should be issued because the halfway house qualifies as a single family residence, a use that is permitted in the district. If the zoning board agrees with the zoning administrator that it is not a permitted use, Coon is asking that the board allow the house based on the district intent clause of the MU district.The district intent clause says: The multiple use district is intended to provide locations for most types of land uses allowed in the other zoning districts. Uses in this district should not endanger the public health and safety, not substantially injure the surrounding property values, and be in harmony with the surrounding area.If the zoning board rules against Coon he may appeal the decision to Polk County Superior Court.The zoning board will also hear on Tuesday an appeal from Timothy F. Johnson, who was denied a zoning permit for a garage/shop building at his property on Green River Cove Road. Johnson is seeking a variance because the county zoning ordinance requires a 15-foot setback for structures from the side property line and a 25-foot setback from the rear property line. The county says Johnson has proposed the building be located one foot from both the side and rear property lines.

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