For a percentage of the men at Phoenix Recovery Center in Conway, drug- and chemical-free housing is part of a transition from prison to society, but when the city and neighbors learned the center was accepting parolees at the duplexes on Shannon Circle and Jersey Street, concern about safety led to a city ordinance clarifying conditions for transitional housing.
The city council approved of the ordinance amending the area plan to allow transitional housing on certain lots. The motion passed five to three with Alderwoman Mary Smith, Alderman Theodore Jones and Alderwoman Shelia Whitmore voting against.
Phoenix Recovery Center has been operational since May 2012. The center employs six full-time employees, three of whom live on site. They conduct random drug tests and regularly search the homes for drugs and alcohol in addition to requiring clients get jobs and attend 12-step programs.
One of the concerns surrounding the recovery center was centered around one plot of land and one home in the middle of the complex — both of which belong to Habitat for Humanity. The home houses a family.
Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County Board of Directors President Anthony Stanley read a short letter at the council meeting, saying, in part, that after negotiations “all parties concerns have been properly addressed. We believe we have come to an agreement that is satisfactory and equitable to all parties involved.”
Representatives from the neighborhood also spoke out saying they had held community meetings to work with the recovery center and felt they could make it work, especially if the center works to keep foot traffic of its clients down.
There were some neighbors who could not be at the meeting who communicated with council members to say they were not in favor of the center being at that location.
Council moved to restrict any further development by the center to duplexes. There is a four-person maximum per dwelling unit. The underlying zoning would allow for three-story apartment complexes without that restriction. Some in the community said they were afraid of a potential “Phoenix Towers.”
There will also be an electric gate leading to the dead-end roads.
The center will be reviewed in six months to make sure they are complying with conditions set by the council.
When asked by Councilwoman Smith about what happens if the residents do not like how things are going in six months, Councilwoman Shelley Mehl said, “We will do the same thing we do anywhere else there are issues with housing. Get the police involved.”
(Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1212. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)