Planning Commission OKs Specific Use Permit for women's rehab facility

By Michelle Charles

The zoning for a residential rehabilitation facility established to provide support, therapy and skills training for women getting out of jail has made it past the Stillwater Planning Commission and will now go before the City Council for final approval.

Josh Conaway, an attorney from Enid who says he has seen firsthand the impact of substance abuse and other traumas like domestic abuse on women, addressed the Planning Commission on behalf of his company Twenty 20 Investment Group.

He said the property at 908 E. 12th Ave. had been purchased with another use in mind before he was approached by Stillwater resident Dee Miller about the need for a facility like the one proposed. Miller formerly worked in community sentencing and now works with the Payne and Logan County District Attorney’s office.

The 15-bedroom facility, zoned as a single-family property, was formerly Early Autumns Assisted Living Center.

The building will be leased by a non-profit called About Face that will operate a 12-month residential treatment program for women. Participation is limited to women in Payne and Logan counties and the participants will go through a multi-step review process that includes the District Attorney, Conaway said.

The goal is to get the women in the program out of their previous environments, give them treatment, provide counseling and help them develop job skills to find employment so they can succeed in life and stay out of jail, he said.

Mark Moore, the owner of two houses located on the east side of the property, expressed concern about traffic and parking issues and asked how the terms of the Specific Use Permit requested would be enforced. If the use were changed later, it could create danger for children using the park and city pool across the street, he said.

City Planner Rian Harkins said SUPs can require an annual review to ensure the conditions are being met and to determine the impact on neighboring properties.

Conaway said the building has parking for 20 vehicles, which should be enough for the residents and up to 10 staff members who will come and go throughout the day. It will house up to 18 women and will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The women living there will be strictly vetted, unlike the renters occupying nearby houses used as short-term rentals, Conaway said.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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