Friday, March 30, 2018

A Sobering Decision for North Charlotte Street

Photos by Evan Brandt
As the result of a unanimous zoning hearing board decision, this "sober living" home at 306 N. Charlotte St. will soon be a home to eight recovering male addicts.
A unanimous vote by the borough's zoning hearing board Thursday night cleared the way for a six-bedroom house in the 300 block of North Charlotte Street to house eight recovering male addicts.

The building is already home to four recovering addicts, said Jacob Ballou, himself a recovering addict who testified about the program at the house.

Although Pottstown Borough Council had opposed the application on the basis of the parking variance being sought -- the code requires four spaces for eight residents -- that opposition became moot.
Jacob Ballou testifies in last night's zoning hearing.

As the hearing got underway Thursday night, attorney Joseph McGrory informed the board that his
client had obtained a lease at a neighboring property for additional parking and thus the application complied with the zoning code.

Without the need for a variance, that left McGrory with only the requirement of proving the home met all of the conditions for the "special exception" by which the zoning code allows group homes.

Ballou and his mother, Kerry Ballou, who owns the house, explained the rules the residents must follow.

Unlike many group homes in the borough, which are sponsored by a non-profit or government agency, this home is entirely the construct of the Ballou family and all residents are voluntary. None are there as the result of a court-ordered recovery.

Despite the rental of the extra spaces, some residents said they still believe parking will be a problem, and at least one said she shares the opinion posted on Facebook by a resident who said living next to a sober home on York Street is unpleasant and loud.

Two speakers, one a resident of the North Charlotte Street home, one not, spoke in favor of sober homes and said since the people who live there "are trying to get their lives back together," they often cannot afford a car.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

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