Residents of a Lakeside Park housing estate have protested a sober third living house at Oxford House that is slated to operate in the city.
About thirty residents attended a meeting in the town building on Monday to voice their grievances over the new use of 109 Farmcrest Court.
The property was purchased by Anthony and Amber Stoeber last month, according to Kenton County property records.
The Stoebers, according to property records, also own 208 Erlanger Rd. In Erlanger which is also used as the location of Oxford House.
There are many sober living houses at Oxford House across the region and country. The organization describes itself on its website as:
Oxford House is a drug and alcohol addiction recovery concept. In its simplest form, a house in Oxford describes a democratically run, self-sufficient, drug-free house. Parallel to this concept is the organizational structure of Oxford House, Inc. This publicly funded 501 (c) 3 nonprofit is the umbrella organization that provides the network connecting all houses in Oxford and allocates resources to duplicate the concept of Oxford House where the need arises.
The number of inhabitants of a house can range from six to fifteen; there are houses for men, houses for women and houses which accept women with children. Oxford Homes thrive in metropolitan areas such as New York and Washington DC and thrive in communities as diverse as Hawaii, Washington State, Canada and Australia; but they meet all the basic criteria.
Each home represents a remarkably effective and inexpensive method of relapse prevention. That was the goal of the first Oxford home established in 1975, and that goal is served day after day, house after house, in each of the more than 2,000 homes in the United States today.
In Lakeside Park, two other locations are already operational at 2695 Mary Jane Court and 247 Applewood Drive.
The most recent one set up to operate on Farmcrest motivated eighteen families to hire a lawyer, local lawyer Chris Wiest.
âIt shocked us,â said resident Dave Hellmann. âA week ago I was at the back of my house on my patio enjoying the holidays, and four days later I have my house for sale! It does not mean anything. I hope for everyone that these programs work. if it’s not the case ? What do we do ? No one has an answer. No one can answer that question, that’s what it looks like to me. It stinks !
“When is it going to end? When is it enough? I don’t want to move. I love this community. I love it here.”
Lakeside Park Mayor David Jansing said he was investigating the complaints and had spoken to wardens at all Oxford houses in six states, who suggested an open house to explain the program to neighbors .
âWe’re trying to establish what kinds of legalities we have to shut down one of these kinds of establishments, Oxford House or any business that would run a sober house, if we didn’t want them in the city,â Jansing said. âInitially the owner of this property agreed to come over tonight to answer all of your questions, but after receiving several threats of harassment and so on, phone calls, texts and things like that, he thought that it would be better if he didn’t show up tonight. “
Ahead of Monday night’s meeting, Mayor Jansing sent a letter to residents, which read in part:
When the first opened on Mary Jane Ct., There was a small amount of criticism from the neighbors. I am confident that the large number of people living in Farmington at that time were probably unaware of the opening of the facility on Mary Jane Ct. A few years ago another facility opened in Applewood. Like all of you, the Council and I are very concerned. I can also tell you that in the three years of opening the one on Mary Jane Ct. And for almost two years of the one on Applewood, there were very minimal issues that were immediately resolved. I have been in contact with the people at Oxford House since Tuesday evening. As with the first two establishments in the city, they want to continue working with us. Their goal is to be a good neighbor. If problems arise, as has always been the case, they want to be informed. They have a policy of nonsense and if anyone is wrong once they are gone.
I’m not in any way trying to defend the facilities that are in our city, but I’m just trying to explain to you how much they watch themselves. We didn’t know what to expect when the first facility opened, so it was a wait-and-see approach. I encourage each of you to take the time to read the attached letter.
As disappointing as it was to learn of the arrival of the third establishment in our city, it was as much or more to discover that threats and harassing phone calls, texts, etc., were received by the owner of the property. property. This type of behavior is not only unacceptable, but also illegal. All of this information was shared with the police.
You have no doubt heard this over and over again, believe it or not, over the past four days, but here again, “Our hands are tied at the city and state level.” If you don’t like the rules and regulations of the FHA, contact your federal legislatures in Washington DC.
Wiest, the lawyer hired by some local families, said the new Oxford home on Farmcrest would be in violation of the city code, although she could seek a waiver from the board, a move that did not has not yet been taken. .
Wiest urged the mayor and council members to be reasonably accommodating to neighbors’ concerns, such as possibly reducing the number of men living in the house from twelve to nine, for example.
Residents of an Oxford home pay all expenses to maintain it, according to the organization’s website, which notes that there are more than 2,300 such homes in total.
The website says that in 2017, residents of the homes paid rent, utilities and other household expenses in excess of $ 116 million.
Wiest argued that there are legal precedents to support the limitations placed on Oxford House, even though the house is legally permitted to operate. For example, he argued that the organization cannot maximize its profits at the expense of residential zoning, and said there was no way twelve cars could fit in a driveway and on the street in the neighborhood. Farmcrest.
Resident Rob Grimes said the neighborhood is zoned as single-family, but claimed Oxford House is bypassing local zoning laws by claiming its residents are disabled.
According to the current zoning, only three unrelated people can live in the same house.
109 Farmcrest is a four bedroom house with an additional bedroom added in the basement. It is just over 2,500 square feet, according to the listing of properties on the Zillow real estate website.
Grimes said he had obtained records from the police department showing that the two existing houses in Lakeside Park Oxford, which house only women, required responses from first responders, including for overdoses and drug use. In February, Grimes said, citing the records, a bonfire built by residents of an Oxford house spun out of control and damaged the house next door.
In total, Grimes said there were 40 incidents in one of the homes.
Grimes was angry that Lakeside Park now had three of these operations in the city.
âWhy is Lakeside Park hauling water from Kenton County and the State of Kentucky to fight the opioid crisis?â He asked.
In Kenton County, according to the organization’s website, there are two Oxford houses that operate in Erlanger, and one in Covington, Ludlow and Fort. Wright. Outside of Kenton County, there are three in Florence, one in Fort Thomas and one in Newport.
âThese guys are slum lords,â Grimes said. “And they’re targeting Lakeside Park!”
Miguel Rodriguez, a retired law enforcement officer who has worked undercover in narcotics investigations, said the house will injure Lakeside Park.
âWithout a doubt. These people are tested by each other. I know, it’s sad, isn’t it?â Rodriguez said. “These people got in trouble, and now they have nowhere to go. They are supposed to go to this house and work. Part of the money they earn goes to pay their rent. Guess who pays the rent. other part? But these people need long-term care to solve their problem. It’s not a question of rehabilitation, it’s a question of money. “
In 2018, when Oxford’s first house planned to open in Lakeside Park, operators submitted more information to the city, as requested by the city attorney. The details included information that the residents function as family, each helping to cover expenses and upkeep. There is no addiction counselor or house manager on site.
âOxford House is nothing more than a single family residence,â the organization told the City of Lakeside Park in 2018. âOxford House residents are encouraged to rent single family units located in good neighborhoods. This means that Oxford homes are typically located in areas zoned for single family dwellings.
Rodriguez and other residents remain concerned.
âYou are all 100% right and I’m with you,â Rodriguez told the crowd Monday night. “There is going to be drugs in this house. There is going to be drug related activity in this house. Are people going to stay overnight in this house? Absolutely. Are they supposed to? No . Did I buy drugs from halfway houses? Absolutely. “
Mayor Jansing thanked everyone for coming and sharing their concerns.
“We will find a solution,” he promised.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer and Michael A. Monks
Photo via Kenton Co. PVA