Halfway house opponents spread word about their fight
September 13, 2005
A group of Carbondale neighbors intent on blocking a halfway house for recovering alcoholics has launched a public information campaign.They have paid for newspaper advertising accusing owner Chris Edrington of failing to abide by the covenants of the Crystal Village subdivision. “We are a single-family area. This is a business in a residential area,” the ad reads.Edrington, of St. Paul Sober Living, operates seven such houses in St. Paul, Minn., and purchased a house in Crystal Village in July for a similar purpose. According to the company’s website, people living in the sober houses in the St. Paul area commit to a six-month stay, attend at least three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week, and hold a job for at least 32 hours a week.The home was purchased soon after the opening of Jaywalker Lodge, a residential alcohol-recovery program in Carbondale, although the two homes are not connected. Some of the neighbors see the house in Crystal Village as a natural extension of Jaywalker Lodge.What neighbors are riled about is Edrington’s failure to abide by Crystal Village covenants.”I abided by the covenants in my neighborhood,” said Duey Fanti, who lives next door to the halfway house. “What’s good for the goose is good for gander. These guys are in violation.”Fanti said Edrington may also be guilty of falsifying information on his home loan.”When you sign deed of trust and you … sign for a residential loan and [the use is commercial], that’s falsifying information. I got a copy of the deed of trust. … What we want to put in paper is fact. We’re making it known to the public. We’re not slandering; we’re not fabricating,” Fanti said.Edrington declined to comment.The neighborhood group is set to meet with the Carbondale trustees at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Town Hall.Greg Chandler, who lives in Carbondale senior housing on Hendrick Drive, across the road from Crystal Village, said he agreed to help Fanti get the word out.”I don’t have anything against programs to help alcoholics recover. I have several friends who have been through it. The technique [Edrington] used to take over property really seemed wrong,” Chandler said. “I’ve lived in the valley for 20 years, and Carbondale has always struck me as fair, and people are always willing to listen to each other.”He got on board with the effort when the town board refused to take action against Edrington, saying he’s protected by the federal fair housing law and the Americans With Disabilities Act.”I’m disabled myself, so I’m kind of on both sides of the issue,” Chandler said. “It surprised me that Carbondale didn’t do anything.”Chandler, who designed the newspaper ad, said the neighbors want the public to know what’s going on based on information the group received recently.”What we have is a set of documents that were created when the property changed hands, the deed of trust and legal documents with Edrington’s signature agreeing to several things the property owners don’t feel are being followed,” he said.”I don’t think [the neighbors] are closed to the idea of a halfway house remaining there now, but it will take lot of work and meetings for them to regain confidence or trust him. … The property owners are not intimidated by its usage as a halfway house but they’re disturbed that it’s being used as business,” Chandler said.