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Proposal advances for drug recovery center on north side

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A controversial proposal to rezone a old hostel on the north side of Indianapolis into a women’s drug recovery center will advance to the Metropolitan Development Commission for consideration.

A hearing examiner on Thursday recommended the rezone over the objections of residents who said the center would cause traffic in the neighborhood.

“We’ve had cars drive up off the road and push the mailboxes off into the sidewalk, run into houses, hit cars that are parked in the street,” said Dr. Ami Rice, who lives across the street from the proposed center.

Proponents of the facility noted Thursday that, under the rezone, the building could house 20 women and their children. The current zoning ordinance allows up to 40 people to inhabit the building located at the corner of Winthrop Avenue and 49th Street.

“We are not a drug treatment facility. It’s not for rehabilitation or detoxification. It’s not a halfway house. It’s not a medical facility. It’s a house for women who are sober,” said Misha Rabinowitz, an attorney representing Overdose Lifeline.

Overdose Lifeline is a nonprofit that helps people struggling with substance abuse.

Rabinowitz adds that trained personnel would be on site constantly, and very few of the patients would use a car. Medications would be kept in a secure location.

David Dearing, who represents community members opposed to the center, told the hearing examine, “A host of nearby bars pose obstacles to those seeking to recover from alcohol addiction.”

Overdose Lifeline Executive Director Justin Phillips responded, “There are drugs and alcohol everywhere if you look for them, including the grocery store. But, an individual gaining recovery needs to know how to appropriately approach those situations that might come across for them.”

The proposal is on the Metropolitan Development Commission’s May 4 meeting agenda. If the proposal is approved, the City-County Council would have final approval of the rezone.