Zoning change approved to allow women’s rehab center to open at former Fuller Muffler & Brakes lot

December 9, 2022 | 12:08 am

Updated December 8, 2022 | 9:06 pm

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Despite a bit of contention from a few neighboring residents, a zoning change was approved Thursday to allow the former Fuller Muffler & Brakes lot to be transformed in to the Volunteers of America’s (VOA) new Freedom House building. Freedom House is a program that provides residential treatment for pregnant and parenting women overcoming substance use disorder.

The building is located at 1111 Frederica Street, just north of the CVS that sits at the intersection with Parrish Avenue.

The Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission (OMPC) approved the change during their meeting. The Planning Staff recommended approval on the condition that a maximum of 64 residents to be allowed in the facility at any given time.

That number was lower than expected for VOA officials, but VP of External Relations Natalie Pasquenza said that they’d be willing to follow the limits placed.

Pasquenza said that the local facility could have held 84 beds (by placing bunk beds in 42 bedrooms), but they do not expect to host more than 50 residents at one time.

“I’m sure we’re happy to follow whatever requirements that the board has,” Pasquenza said.

Pasquenza said Thursday that in a previous neighborhood meeting residents were notified about the zoning change request, and were encouraged to attend the OMPC meeting. However, some residents appeared before the Commission stating they did not receive a letter from VOA.

Resident Ron Williams said that he and another resident were the only ones to attend and many others in the neighborhood did not receive a letter. A representative from Morley, the agency providing engineering services, testified that letters had been sent out to residents that lived nearby on St. Ann Street.

Williams went on to state that he supports the Freedom House mission, yet he is does not want the rehabilitation center built in his neighborhood due to his assumption that it would lower the property value of his and neighboring homes.

“This would change real estate values and the ability to sell homes when the time comes and you’re ready to move. I don’t dispute that there’s a need for this, but I’m pretty sure in the city of Owensboro and the county of Daviess that there are other lots that are open they can rebuild,” Williams said.

Williams also thinks that the new facility will bring increased traffic and said that the safety of the children in the neighborhood should be considered.

Molly McCarroll, Director of Community Relations for VOA and herself a resident in that neighborhood, had the opposite outlook.

“I have to say that taking that building on the street corner from being a big, ugly, empty space and turning it into something that’s beautiful, well-lit, that has security cameras outside and that has people in there all the time, seems to me that not only it would beautify the neighborhood — which would be good for property values — but it would make it safer,” McCarroll said.

After hearing all sides, the OMPC Board approve the zone change from Light Industrial to General Business with a Conditional Use Permit as well. T

The maximum number of residents was set at 56 at a time, though Pasquenza clarified that refers to the mothers and not any children that may be living with them.

December 9, 2022 | 12:08 am

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