Residents push back against sober house

  • Residents who live close to a sober living home in Francestown are challenging a decision handed down by select board members back in May to grant a request for “reasonable accommodations,” which allowed the home to continue operating.   Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, June 26, 2017 7:32PM

The Francestown Select Board’s decision to OK a request for a sober living residence made back in May has been challenged by residents who live close to the property.

Board members voted to approve a “reasonable accommodation” request made by Lakehouse Recovery LLC Owner Mark Hatfield after months of entanglement with the town over zoning regulations. The board’s decision was based on the Fair Housing Act, which states that communities may not discriminate against people based on characteristics such as race, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin. People recovering from drug and alcohol addiction are considered to be disabled and are covered under the act.

Now, residents are pushing back.

James S. Tovey, Joanne Santospago, and Timothy C. Bower are listed on the appeal submitted to the town.

Tovey said in an email to the Ledger-Transcript the appeal is based on the premise that the home is operating a commercial business inside the state’s shoreland protection zone.

In addition, he believes the home is violating state law, which reads that a business must be licensed if it is providing more than room or board, and if it is providing transportation, monitoring, and drug testing.

Hatfield has contended in the past that the home is not a commercial business but an in-home business and believes it is in complete compliance with state law.

Town Administrator Jamie Pike said the appeal will be discussed at a Zoning Board of Adjustments meeting, although a meeting time has not yet been selected.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com. Follow her on Twitter @akesslerMLT.