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Roanoke neighborhood tries to appeal zoning decision on “recovery residence”

“We don’t feel like we’ve had a chance to be heard”
Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 7:00 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - If you drive down Oakwood Drive in the Oak Hill subdivision, you’ll find 31 homes. All the families that call the neighborhood ‘home’ have a lot in common.

“Those that live in closer proximity are affected more significantly and I think the key here is that we’re a neighborhood," said John Harlow, the elected neighborhood spokesperson.

Harlow has lived in the neighborhood 14 years. Other neighbors have been there much longer. It’s tight-knit. Twenty-eight kids live on the two streets that end in a cul-de-sac, and there’s a yearly block party.

But at the very end of Oakwood Drive sits house number 802. Its perimeter is currently littered with signs that read “Attempt to Appeal.”

“We had been told that the Fowlers were going to be moving and that the house would be going on the market, then we saw the sign go up, but truthfully the neighbors learned of it because the for sale sign went down. They went over to introduce themselves to their new neighbors, but they learned they wouldn’t be neighbors at all; it was going to be a business," said Harlow.

That business is operated by Pinnacle Treatment Services of Roanoke. The main office is off Peters Creek Road.

Pinnacle offers drug and alcohol-free living for people in recovery of substance abuse disorders.

The home on Oakwood was purchased by Capgrow Parners LLC, the parent company of Pinnacle, in June of this year.

Neighbors say by June 29, residents were already living there and they say this new recovery space was not licensed.

“I don’t know any business that starts and then goes back and gets the proper licensing once they’re questioned," said Harlow.

Thus began the paperwork to file an appeal with the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals. Every house in Oak Hill is part of the appeal, all the residents saying 802 is not properly zoned.

In March of this year, the zoning administrator issued a determination to Pinnacle that recovery residences in other parts of the city were constituted as group homes, and could operate as single-family residences.

“What they’re doing there, or how they’re being served, we don’t have any issue with that, at least I don’t. The core issue is that it’s a business, and we would love to see this be resolved, but we don’t feel like we’ve had a chance to be heard," said Harlow.

The Board of Zoning Appeals updated the agenda Tuesday to reflect that the board planned to file a motion to dismiss the appeal altogether. According to attorney Jim Cowan, hired by the neighborhood, even if the motion passes by the board, the neighborhood can appeal that decision, and bring the issue to Circuit Court.

The hearing with the Board of Zoning Appeals will take place virtually, and is scheduled for October 14 at 1 p.m.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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