Proposed rule changes in Delray Beach targets group homes

Posted by Brian Pearl on Friday, August 4th, 2017 at 12:02pm.

 

Sober House Rules in Delray Beach

Delray Beach officials, as well as residents, have long voiced concerns about the prevalence of sober homes in city neighborhoods.

Sober homes provide safe homes for individuals in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction as they prepare to re-enter society after rehab or incarceration. Since these individuals are protected under federal law, the City of Delray Beach has been largely unsuccessful in its attempts to curb the rise of more such homes and has continued to lobby the feds in favor of an equitable solution. 

Proposed change limits number of sober homes in a given area

Currently, the city is proposing a new regulation that would not only limit the number of sober group homes in an area but would also require these homes to be accredited through a certifying regulatory body. The city planning and zoning board approved the motion in June of 2017 and is set to go before the city commission very soon.

If it passes, it will be the first such law in the entire state of Florida.

How the new group home rule will change Delray Beach real estate

If passed, new sober group homes in Delray Beach would not be allowed to establish on or within the same block where another operates. Licensing would be required through a governing organization such as the Florida Assn. of Recovery Residences, and would not be limited to sober residences, as it would extend to include all group homes operating within the city limits.

“New laws do not target recovery community”, says city attorney.

Interim city attorney Max Lohman spoke directly to the planning and zoning board prior to the vote, stressing that the new regulations are needed to protect the community, including individuals who are in recovery.

The basis for this statement stems from a widespread lack of standardization of such residences. Though there are legalities associated with some types of group homes, sober residences lack official regulation and often operate unscrupulously. Some may even be guilty of insurance fraud or worse.

Sober home task force cracks down on disreputable operators

The Sober Home Task Force of Palm Beach County has already gained some significant headway in stemming the tide. A recently updated joint statement issued by the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development puts the onus on the municipalities to initiate the new spacing legislation. Delray Mayor Cary Glickstein was front and center of the initiative, which was released in November of last year.

Group home regulatory expert provides key research

The regulation itself is based on a report published by Daniel Lauber, an attorney, and expert on group home legislation who has worked closely with other cities to facilitate similar changes to their municipal zoning laws.

Lauber’s report remarked on the number as well as the concentration of recovery homes in Delray Beach, citing 183 verified locations as well as 64 that are suspected, but not regulated or confirmed. His report goes on to state that the intense concentration of these homes negates their purported mission of inclusion and normalization within the community.

The highest concentration of group homes seems to be in the areas east of I-95, between George Bush Blvd. and Southwest 10th St.

Potential challenges ahead

As the changes take hold, there is a possibility that the new law will be tested in court. The American Disabilities Act, as well as the Fair Housing Act, protects people in recovery from discrimination in terms of where they can set up housekeeping. Currently, the rule under consideration proposes that such homes have a minimum of 660 feet of distance between them. House owners or operators would be required to obtain a permit if they were within these limits. The city would also be able to issue a permit in the event that the residence was unable to obtain a license from a standard certifying body.

Contact The Pearl Antonacci Group at Lang Realty for more information

If you are concerned about how this new ordinance will affect you or your Delray Beach real estate, contact The Pearl Antonacci Group at Lang Realty for more information today. One of our agents would be happy to answer any questions you have. 

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