BZA approves special use for Grace House

May 2—ANDERSON — Three years after being denied a special exception, Grace House won approval to operate a residential treatment center.

The Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday approved the request by Grace House and owner Karl Lazar to operate the treatment center for alcohol and drug addiction in the 1400 block of Broadway.

Three years ago the BZA denied the request when local residents raised concerns about the impact on property values, traffic, parking and the potential for increased crime at the former Dove Harbor facility.

The staff of the Anderson Municipal Development Department recommended denial of the special use request based on the same concerns.

Attorney Tom Beeman, representing Grace House, said he also represented Aspire of Indiana when it received approval to operate a men's residential treatment at Mockingbird Hill and there was no problem getting it approved.

"Grace House is already operating as a substance abuse clinic for three years," Beeman said. "The change is to make it a residential treatment center.

"Residential treatment is the number one way to beat substance abuse," he said. "This is a private company trying to provide help to people dealing with substance abuse."

Beeman said studies have shown that residential treatment centers don't impact property values.

He said property values in the area have increased over the past three years along the same lines as other properties in Anderson.

Lazar said Grace House will provide residential treatment for 35 men and women, who will be housed on separate floors.

"The facility is expected to employ 35 people and should be operating within the next three months," he said.

Grace House is licensed by the state and has been accepted to receive Medicare patients, Lazar said.

BZA chairman Rudy Williams raised some concerns about security at the facility.

Lazar said there are interior and exterior cameras, and access to the building is only gained through admittance by a staff member.

"This will provide higher level of care to the people we already serve," Lazar said. "We will be able to put a small dent in the problem.

Local resident Steven Kreger said Grace House is releasing people into the neighborhood with no place to go.

Kreger said patients are using the alley to the east as a street and traveling at a high rate of speed.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.