‘We Will Come Together on Something’: Sober House Operators, Concerned Neighbor Near Agreement

The operators of the “sober house” on West Road and a next-door neighbor who has appealed the town’s finding that the business could run out of a residence there appear close to reaching mutually agreeable terms, according to correspondence on file at Planning & Zoning. Though no formal agreement yet has been finalized, the parties held an “amicable” meeting and “it’s clear to each side that we will come together on something along the lines of” a proposal brought forward by next-door neighbor Thom Harrow, he said in an email last week to the town planner. “The proposal we made incorporated the community contract you were working on with [The Lighthouse] co-founder Tony [Kiniry], plus material from the Pennsylvania statute,” Harrow said. He referred to recommendations that call criminal background checks and town notification within 48 hours in the event of a death, overdose or suicide attempt, physical or sexual assault, serious crime or outbreak of contagious disease. Originally scheduled to come before the Zoning Board of Appeals on April 3 and put off to May 1, the second hearing on Harrow’s appeal—if it’s not withdrawn—now appears as if it could be delayed again.

Judge Denies New Canaan Homeowner’s Motion To Quash; ‘Sober House’ Lawsuit Headed Toward Trial

In a closely followed lawsuit that appears headed to trial, a judge last week denied a motion filed on behalf of the New Canaan woman who owns a West Road property where a “sober house” is operating. An attorney representing the owner of 909 West Road had argued in a March 9 filing that his client should not need to appear and testify in court this week, as spelled out in a subpoena from a next-door neighbor who is suing her in order to halt the facility’s operation. The subpoena filed on behalf of neighbor Thom Harrow also is “unreasonable, oppressive and burdensome because it seeks production of documents that are plainly irrelevant,” according to the Motion to Quash filed by attorney Robert Maslan of Darien-based Maslan Associates PC. “The subpoena’s overly broad document requests for ‘any communications … concerning the use and/or occupancy of the subject premises’ go far beyond the scope of this purported private zoning enforcement and/or nuisance action, in which Plaintiff bears the burden to prove that defendants’ conduct constitutes an unreasonable interference with his use and enjoyment of his own property … or violates the Town of New Canaan’s zoning regulations … It is difficult to see how defendants’ communications regarding the property at issue are relevant to plaintiff’s allegations that defendants have already interfered with plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of his property (which allegations the evidence will show are entirely false) or violated the zoning regulations (which must, to the extent defendants’ proposed use of the property is inconsistent with them, be waived or modified pursuant to the federal Fair Housing Act).”

Judge Kevin Tierney of the state Superior Court in Stamford on March 9 denied the motion. The matter is scheduled to go to trial May 16, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch records.

Letter: Considerations of Safety, Valuation and the Law Should Pause ‘Sober House’ Operation on West Road

Dear Editor:

We recently built our home at 488 West Road and moved in with our three little girls two yeas ago. We are outraged at the lack of action by the town to allow 909 West Road to operate as a commercial business in our residential neighborhood. This is not a monitored operation, nor does it have a live-in trained addiction supervisor that will highly monitor the residents inhabiting this residential home. It is a commercial use facility operating out of a home. This home is being used for an unregulated profit operation.

Letter: ‘Sober House’ on West Road Openly Addresses Prevalent, Unspoken New Canaan Problem

Dear editor,

This is in response to the published commentary last week and the statements made by Mr. and Mrs. Russell. My name is Nick deSpoelberch and I am a Darien resident living in recovery. First, I find it difficult to continue reading the comments of an author who within four paragraphs admits to lying in order to gather information through deceitful action, or to believe anything following that is worth reading or believing. If residents of New Canaan, Wilton, Darien, and Greenwich do not believe people struggling with addiction are already living all around them, I would like to officially welcome you to Fairfield County in 2017. In our state, 50 to 100 more people die every consecutive year from overdoses.

Letter from The Lighthouse: ‘We Could Have Better Handled the Communication’

We are the operators of The Lighthouse sober living residence in New Canaan. The Lighthouse was conceived as a solution to a very specific need. A place where professional men could go after treatment to be immersed in sober fellowship and surrounded by a supportive community. A place that helps support the transition back to work and allows families time and space to build a solid foundation for recovery. The Lighthouse has the goal of being the gold standard in sober living.