Council approves rezoning for proposed Hickory House rehabilitation facility, 6-3

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — After hearing more than an hour of public comment, the Terre Haute City Council Thursday evening approved a rezoning action that would allow an old nursing home to be converted into Hickory House, a woman’s drug rehabilitation facility in Farrington’s Grove. The vote was 6-3.

The council last month put off a vote on a rezoning action that would allow the facility to be constructed in the 800 block of South 6th St., agreeing to revisit the matter at Thursday’s meeting in order to gather more information.

It’s an issue that has divided the community. At Thursday’s meeting, Farrington’s Grove residents argued that they don’t have an issue with recovery but they fear it’ll cause more issues in the neighborhood.

One woman who had lived in the neighborhood for 12 years asked the Council, “Why do the concerns of the residents of Farrington’s Grove, our children, our families and our neighbors matter any less?”

On the other hand, a man who had lived there for 18 years spoke in favor of the facilities. “They have done nothing but bring positivity to the neighborhood,” he said, saying the facilities have taken previously neglected homes, kept them clean and orderly and “made them viable in the community.”

Richard Shagley, an attorney representing Chosen Terre Haute LLC, said he understood the residents’ frustrations.

“Change is the great unknown,” he acknowledged. “And people fear change. This is a great neighborhood, it’s a beautiful neighborhood. And I understand the desire to protect it.”

But he pointed out the new facility would help those fighting addiction. “Unless you know what Hickory Recovery is, the little sign out front, you’re never going to know that this is providing a service that’s not only saving the clients’ lives, but the families of that client and the friends and family,” Shagley said. “Addiction doesn’t just affect the person going through it.”

Rob Roberts, Vigo County Deputy Prosecutor, told the Council the Prosecutor’s office is in full support of bringing the facility to the neighborhood.

Hickory House is projected to provide a 28-day program for up to 38 women battling addiction. It has four other locations, in Rockville, Linton, Corydon and Indianapolis. Terre Haute, the fifth, plans to open within the next two months.

Following last months meeting, council president Earl Elliott said he planned to reach out to medical professionals to find out if there was a demand for such a facility in the area.

Thomas Manson, who has lived in Farrington’s Grove for several years, previously told that he wants to see the historic neighborhood flourish, and that the rehab center could hinder that.

“This not an issue of not in my backyard. This is a zoning issue,” he said. “We’d really like the city to defend Terre Haute, the zoning laws and not allow this facility to be smack dab of the middle of a single and multifamily residential neighborhood.”

Others have countered that repurposing the vacant building on 6th Street could help property values.

“In my opinion, when I’m driving around looking for a house, I want to see the other homes occupied and filled and taking care of the property,” Mark Collins explained. “If it’s not occupied, it’s going to go into disrepair. There will be more vandalism and more break ins.”

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