In 2-1 vote, Jeffco commissioners green light overnight accommodations at Spero

Spero will be able to house up to 37 people overnight at a time

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/10/20

The owner of the Spero Recovery Center can proceed with adding overnight accommodations to its properties on Buffalo Park Road after the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners voted 2-1 in …

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In 2-1 vote, Jeffco commissioners green light overnight accommodations at Spero

Spero will be able to house up to 37 people overnight at a time

Posted

The owner of the Spero Recovery Center can proceed with adding overnight accommodations to its properties on Buffalo Park Road after the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of rezoning the properties.

Commissioners Libby Szabo and Casey Tighe voted in favor of the rezoning while Commissioner Lesley Dahlkemper voted against it.

The commissioners broke with the Jefferson County Planning Commission, which voted 6-1 to recommend denial of the rezoning application. The county's planning department, meanwhile, had recommended the rezoning move forward.

Spero was seeking to rezone the former church at 29997 and the home at 29877 Buffalo Park Road from A-2 zoning, which allows agricultural and residential uses, to a planned development district.

The original proposal to allow Spero to provide overnight accommodations for up to 45 people—27 men in the church, 12 women in the house and six staff members in an additional building on the home property was modified with the zoning approval. Spero agreed to reduce the maximum number of people who would stay overnight at any one time to 37.

During a six-hour-plus hearing on Nov. 24, the commissioners heard comments from dozens of neighbors who generally opposed the rezoning on the grounds that lodging for 37 people did not fit into their residential neighborhood. But they also heard from several supporters of Spero, including two Colorado representatives, as well as many who had recovered from addiction by participating in its program.

Both Tighe and Szabo praised the recovery services that Spero would bring to the community, which they said are sorely needed.

“Everybody knows somebody either in their family, their friends, their coworkers who has been touched by substance abuse,” said Tighe. “We really need to work hard to figure out ways to provide opportunities for people to put this challenging addiction behind them.”

Szabo mentioned her sister-in-law, who she said struggled with addiction but could not afford the high price tag of most addiction recovery facilities.

“This program could have saved her life," Szabo said. “I hope it saves many, many lives.”

Dahlkemper said she had wrestled with the decision but ultimately kept coming back to her feeling that an addiction recovery center is not a community use. County regulations allow community uses such as fire stations and schools to be located anywhere in the county but do not define addiction recovery centers as such a use.

“My job today is not to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of Spero's programming, but it's really focused on the impact in the surrounding area, the land use,” she said.

Dahlkemper said county regulations say community uses are those that “serve a local need” but Spero serves a “regional need” because it serves clients from “a wide range of regional locations.”

She also said that she felt that providing overnight accommodations is generally not consistent with a community use. In addition, the county's Evergreen Area Plan recommends that the Buffalo Park Road area should be an area of stability, and changing the land use would disrupt that, she said.

Tighe, however, disagreed with Dahlkemper's analysis.

“I just don't agree with the thought that this isn't compatible with the surrounding uses,” he said. “This is going to be people that are going to be living in the facility as they go through their rehab. I think the impacts aren't as strong as you indicated.”

Szabo said that in supporting the rezoning, she is expecting Spero to run a facility that is not disruptive to the surrounding community.

“This is something our community needs, but I would hope you will have the protocols in place so that if people aren't abiding by the rules and are interrupting the people around them, there is no tolerance for that,” she said. “You are moving into a place where a lot of people have been for a long time, and you need to make sure you are operating with that in mind.”

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