INDIANAPOLIS — The Board of Zoning Appeals approved a variance that will permit the location of a new Opioid Treatment Program in a former Big Lots store at 3415 English Avenue in the Twin Aire community.
The three-to-two vote overrode resident concerns of rising crime and falling property values to determine that the new site would be a good fit to an area already home to the recently opened Community Justice Center including the Marion County Courthouse and Adult Detention Center.
The variance was needed as the new OTP would sit less than 500 feet from a residential neighborhood, though its property would be bordered by trees and a railroad track and the closest neighbor is an industrial firm.
”The new space will allow us to double the number of patients that we serve from about 800 to 1600 annually,” said Dr. Ashley Overly of Eskenazi Mental Health Center. “This location is also close to many of our patients who already live in the neighborhood.”
Overly said the 46201 zip code hosting the Center led all of Marion County in fatal drug overdoses last year and a neighboring zip code was third on the list.
The Center would be open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends.
Fifty people would be employed and security would be present on site.
Those arguments were not persuasive to neighbors who fought the variance.
”No one has said yes,” said Edgar Guadarrama. “No one who lives here wants it there.”
”We feel our plate is full with the addition of the CJC to our area and are in agreement with police that an additional site documented potential with increasing crime is not something we want or can handle,” said Jude O’Dell.
”I have had constant issues with homeless people, drug users, theft, vandalism, property damage, etc.,” said commercial property owner R. J Pollock.
The area surrounding the CJC is ripe for development with the construction of a $5 million McDonald’s restaurant and the addition of a new office building.
”Having those kind of eateries and stuff there will be great for the neighborhood because the neighbors can walk to McDonald’s,” said Brenda McAtee of the Norwood Neighborhood Association, though residents are fearful of some of the other issues development and the presence of the CJC has brought to their community. ”I think the neighborhood is worried about other people coming here along with the homeless that we have.”
While residents quoted unnamed IMPD officers who they said warned them of increasing crime should the addiction clinic locate in their area, Doug Huntsinger of the Indiana Commission to Combat Substance Use Disorder said studies show crime does not rise and property values do not fall as the result of the proximity of such a clinic.