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Georgia Nimbys Want Rehab Out

Townsfolk claim a drug rehab threatens their neighborhood and property values. It's not the first facility to provoke this reaction. 

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By McCarton Ackerman

10/03/12

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You'd think most people would applaud drug addicts entering treatment, but residents of a Lawrenceville, GA neighborhood say they're all for it as long as it doesn't happen in their back yard. The residential rehab in question, known as Purple Inc., opened last February and treats young men with drug and alcohol addictions. Nearby homeowners are now taking action after finding out the center applied for a permit to continue operating as a residential facility, claiming it's a threat to their neighborhood and property values. "I felt blindsided in exactly what type of facility it was," says resident Ruthie Cansiz. "I think if any person falls out of this sort of rehab program and causes a problem for one child, one person, one house, that is enough." Linda Chambers, another resident, says that while she doesn't object to the facility itself, she thinks the location is ill-advised: "Across from a subdivision with a bunch of children and across from a high school, that didn't seem like an appropriate location."

The facility houses 25 men and has been operating in Gwinnett County for 10 years without incident, according to Brett Bagley, director of Purple Inc. He recently held an open house and invited the community to attend to learn more, but only one person showed up. "The people who are here are not dangerous people," says Bagley. "These are the guys who are here because they want to get better. They're being drug tested. They're here with clinicians actively participating in changing their lives." The county planning commission is expected to make a recommendation this week on whether the center can continue as a residential facility. It's hardly the first time neighborhoods have objected to rehabs; there have been rumblings against facilities from Malibu to the Hamptons this year, while residents of the New Jersey suburb of Alpine last month tried to tried to halt plans for a proposed residential rehab there.

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