Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Home for addicts allowed

Settlement ends objections of neighborhood

The Associated Press

        OWENSBORO, Ky. — A group home for women recovering from alcohol and substance abuse addiction may open after the settlement of a lawsuit that stemmed from neighborhood opposition.

        Organizers of a group home, called Jennifer House, reached a settlement with the Owensboro-Davies County Board of Adjustment and the city, but terms were not disclosed.

        “The house will be able to open at that location, and it will have the proper permit,” said Angela Slaton, attorney for Lexington Fair Housing Council (LFHC), which joined Jennifer House in the federal lawsuit.

        Jeanne Owers, founder of the home, said it is expected to open in August. Court records show the suit against the Owensboro-Daviess County Board of Adjustment and the city has been dismissed.

        “I would hope the neighbors will think of us as quiet and efficient, just another house in the neighborhood,” Ms. Owers said.

        The settlement reverses a board's ruling in February 2000 to deny Jennifer House a conditional use permit for the group home. The board denied the permit after neighbors in the J.Z. Moore Historic District objected to the home.

        Jennifer House and LFHC argued recovering alcoholics are considered disabled under federal fair housing laws and that the board and city discriminated against the home when they failed to grant a conditional use permit.

        None of the parties admitted liability in the settlement, said City Attorney David Fowler.

        “Our clients will be women who have been through a formal rehabilitation program,” Ms. Owers said. “Ordinarily, transitional housing for men or women is a good addition to a neighborhood. These will be people who have jobs, go to work every day and in addition, have rules and regulations they must follow.”


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