Hetal Patel, who is proposing the inpatient facility, is seeking a special exception that would allow for development of an empty parcel of land at 2010 Thistle Hill Road under the township’s commercial district bylaws.
On the parcel, which borders Jackson Township and Spring Grove, Patel proposed to build a two-story inpatient drug and alcohol facility with a 28-space parking lot. Care would be administered by a staff of between 10 and 12 employees, including state-licensed medical professionals. No narcotics would be dispensed on site and inpatient care will be limited to a 10-day stay, Patel told the board.
Property owners near the proposed development packed Jackson Township’s meeting room to ask questions and voice concerns. In addition to a number that were standing in the back, many flooded out into the entrance of the township office.
The parcel is owned by Raymond L. and Carla J. Hoffman, but is under contract for its purchase, pending the township’s approval.
Patel, an interior decorator and resident of West Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, testified to the board how she lost a brother to an opioid overdose one year ago and is emotionally invested in the project.
Jason Miller, who owns property directly across the street from the proposed development, asked why another facility was necessary when Clarity Way, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Heidelberg Township, is just over 4 miles away from the proposed development.
Clarity Way is not able to completely accommodate York County’s needs, Patel responded.
“Detox is the first and most vital stage of recovery,” she said. “There’s not enough medical detoxification beds available in York County.”
Clarity Way has six beds available, according to its website. It also offers 30-, 60-, and 90-day rehabilitation programs, which address the psychological and behaviorial dependence on drugs and alcohol and seeks to instill an individual with habits that will restore them to a healthy life. Patel’s proposed development would cater to detoxification, which rids an individual of unhealthy chemicals built up during accumulated drug and alcohol abuse.
The range of pay for each occupied bed at Patel’s development would be between $400 and $1,000 per day, she said.
A number of residents scrutinized details of the project including planned security provisions, and many voiced their concerns at the facility’s proximity to a school, citing fears for their children. Some questioned why Spring Grove wasn’t involved as it would feel more of a financial burden from the project than Jackson Township.
John Bailey, a resident of Spring Grove, presented paperwork he said he had collected from the National Association of Realtors finding that property values can drop between 8 percent and 17 percent as a result of drug and alcohol treatment facilities coming into communities.
“I don’t know about you, but my home is one of my largest assets and I don’t think it’s fair that this could snatch up 17 percent of that,” Baiely said
Patel’s attorney, Stacey MacNeal of York-based Katherman Heim & Perry, asked Bailey if he knew, off-hand, what the reduction in property values would be for a motel, convenience store or laundry service. All of those uses, she said, are permitted on the lot in question.
After more than an hour of back-and-forth between Patel and residents, the zoning board moved to executive session. When board members returned, they denied Patel’s request for a special exception, citing a concern for a reduction in property values. The packed house responded with a round of applause.
MacNeal said that she and her client would wait until they received the formal written denial for the special exeption before deciding how to proceed.
Patel has the right to either accept or appeal the motion. If she appeals, the case will be handled by Court of Common Pleas of York County.