BUTLER TWP. — Dan Herman has owned and operated the Sleepy Hollow Golf Center for five years, and on Monday he expressed concern about the future of his business.
Herman’s business consists of a golf center, miniature golf course and an ice cream shop. But it’s not the popularity of those businesses that has Herman concerned — it’s the possibility that a drug-and-alcohol treatment center will locate adjacent to his property.
“It’s not that I’m opposed to it, it’s that I haven’t received much information on what exactly will be going on at the center if it is approved,” Herman, 54, said. “Nobody seems to know anything about it. We want to know how it will impact this community or if it will tear it apart.”
The treatment center is being planned for a building that is listed at 1303 St. John’s Road, but Herman said that’s the address of his golf center.
The matter will be brought before the Butler Township Zoning Hearing Board at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. today at the township municipal meeting, 415 W. Butler Drive, Drums.
“It’s not going to be a methadone clinic,” said Jack Darrow, one of two men partnering to open the for-profit center. “We will treat people with alcohol and drug problems. This is something this area needs.”
Darrow said the building formerly housed a go-kart racing track. Darrow’s partner in the venture is Dr. Jude Sidari.
Herman said that besides the incorrect address, he and many others have several concerns about having a treatment center in an area that has a family business and a school-bus stop nearby.
Herman said he has become the face of community that has become concerned about the proposed treatment facility. He said his property is next door to the proposed site, yet he has not received any notification from the township about the plan.
“We have tried to find out, but all we get are vague answers,” he said.
When Herman learned about the meeting and the request for a zoning special exception, he called others, but nobody knew what was going on.
“We have seen this hysteria drummed up because there hasn’t been enough information out there,” Herman said. “When you can’t get answers and there’s such a lack of information, it makes you wonder what is going on.”
State Rep. Tarah Toohil, a resident of Butler Township, said she doesn’t want to see another MinSec halfway house in her district. The state Department of Corrections stopped funding to MinSec in June after several inmates living there committed crimes.
Toohil weighs in
Toohil said MinSec first applied in 2007 for an exception to operate a drug and alcohol center. She said she has received numerous calls from constituents who fear the same thing could happen on St. John’s Road.
Herman said he understands that alcohol and drug problems exist and that people have a right to be treated.
“It’s just that we don’t know exactly what treatment will be offered there,” he said. “Will drugs be dispensed? Will the clients come from other facilities where they receive drugs as a part of their treatment?”
Herman said the location just doesn’t fit the neighborhood. He said his business is family oriented and is also frequented by school-age children.
“There’s an unattended school-bus stop right over there,” he said, pointing out his window. “And we are also concerned about the increase in traffic that this facility could bring.”
Herman said he has heard that the proposed facility will use several methods for treatment, including yoga. He recalled a family friend who was a heroin addict and got pregnant. He said that shortly after the birth of her child, the young woman overdosed and died.
“If a baby isn’t enough to motivate someone to get off of drugs, how will yoga help?” Herman asked.
Butler Township zoning officer Jim Weber said the area is zoned “suburban residential” and a treatment center is an allowed use, but a special exception must be secured from the zoning hearing board.
Darrow said the existing structure on the site contains 4,800 square feet. He said he and Sidari intend to add 7,200 square feet to the building.
“We will offer a 12-step program,” Darrow said.
Toohil said, “And it could be another MinSec nightmare.”