Garfield County ‘sober house’ could be in trouble
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A “sober house” that has been operating in the Elk Springs (formerly Los Amigos) subdivision for two years may be in trouble with Garfield County, thanks to a complaint from a neighbor.
Known as the Edrington Sober House, owned by Donald Edrington of Minnesota, the facility operates at a single-family house near the entrance to the subdivision, which is located off County Road 114 near Colorado Mountain College.
Another sober house operates in Carbondale, and the two are believed to be the only such facilities in the valley.
According to county documents, the Elk Springs facility houses up to 10 unrelated people seeking to overcome their chemical dependency.
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The Los Amigos Planned Unit Development zoning regulations allow only single-family homes, and Edrington is applying to modify the zoning to allow a “sober house” as a use by right.
Some of the neighbors seem divided in their opinions about the matter.
Several letters submitted to Garfield County noted specifically that they have no objection to the house being used as it is, stating that it has caused no disturbances and poses no hazards.
“It isn’t about the house itself,” said Chris Chappelle, the county’s code compliance officer who responded to the complaint and ruled that, as a business enterprise that collects fees for services, the house is out of compliance with county codes.
What some neighbors are worried about, according to the letters to the county commissioners, is the prospect of having the zoning changed and subsequently seeing more such facilities move into the neighborhood.
“It should be clear that we do not have an issue with the Sober House in its current location,” wrote Robert and Jennifer Quaco, “as probably everyone knows or has known someone who could benefit from the program.”
Others, however, were less accommodating.
“Having a sober house in the subdivision will jeopardize my right to privacy, security and safety,” wrote Loretta DeRose. “Elk Springs is too isolated for a sober house. The clients need walking access to parks, deli, pharmacy … a downtown area is far more suitable.”
“What is next for our subdivision, medical marijuana?” asked Jay and Suzie Jacobson.
The homeowners association reportedly voted last year to oppose the rezoning application.
At a hearing last December, the county’s planning and zoning commission recommended that Edrington’s application be denied. At a hearing before the board of county commissioners on Feb. 1, county planner Tom Veljic also recommended denial of the application.
But the applicants reportedly contacted the county and asked that the matter be set off so they could come up with a new application.
That request was granted by commissioners, and the matter is expected to be back before the board later this year.
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