A recent hearing before a town board in Derry revealed just how pervasive the problem of drug and alcohol addiction is.
The operators of Granite House were before the Zoning Board of Appeals seeking a variance to operate a 31-bed "sober house" on West Broadway for recovering drug and alcohol addicts. That's when, as Doug Ireland reported, members of the ZBA unexpectedly began to tell their own families' stories of addiction.
"My mother died of alcoholism," Chairman Allan Virr said. "I wish there was a facility for her ..."
Board member David Thompson said he wished there was a sober house for his brother. He died of alcoholism as well.
"I highly support this," he said.
Problems with addiction recognize no social boundaries.
That's why it was important that the Zoning Board approved the variance for Granite House. The facility has moved from its former location on Union Street to a newly renovated building at 35 West Broadway, the former Marinier's Inn, a boarding house.
Granite House now needs approval from the Planning Board to operate its 31-bed supervised residential facility for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics.
The Planning Board should approve. It is clear the facility serves a useful purpose.
Fourteen people went before the Zoning Board to express their support, including some who said they or family members battled substance abuse, Ireland reported.
Michael Moore of Fairways Drive told of how he used to walk down the street drunk and high on drugs, throwing used hypodermic needles into the bushes. He has recovered from his addictions and wants others to as well.
Ed Nolan of Londonderry told of how his son battled heroin addiction for 10 years — until he entered Granite House four months ago.
"That's the longest he has been clean and sober in that 10-year period of time," Nolan said. "It's a program that works. It's a program that has given my wife and I a ray of hope."
Opposition to Granite House was limited. Steve Trefethen of Summerview Real Estate at 40 W. Broadway has strongly opposed the relocation of Granite House on the grounds that it is a non-conforming use of a downtown property.
"I personally don't think they meet the majority of these (criteria)," Trefethen said.
Trefethen also said Granite House would endanger public safety because it would be too close to the Marion Gerrish Community Center at 39 W. Broadway.
But center board member Janet Conroy said they supported the request.
It is clear that the benefits provided by Granite House to the community and the improvements to the West Broadway property it occupies outweigh any negatives associated with the facility. The Planning Board should offer its approval.
It is clear such a facility serves an important purpose in Derry.