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November 22, 2017

Drug treatment center earns planners’ support

What they need is sustained, safe recovery. . . . If they don’t get it, they’re going to get high, they’re going to get dead.
— Steve Worthington
Public Hearing
• Topic: Special permit application for 14-bed substance abuse recovery center at 30 John Marshall St., Warrenton

• When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21.

• Agency: Warrenton Planning Commission.

• Where: Town Hall, 18 Court St.

• Applicant: McShin Foundation, Richmond.

• Speakers: 35, with 27 supporting and eight opposing the application.

• Length: About 2 hours.

• Landowner: Mill Pond Investments LLC (Matt Iten, owner). 

• Zoning: Central Business District.

• Center manager: Chris Connell

• Details: By-right town zoning allows counseling at McShin’s 30 John Marshall St. building; the foundation and other groups have been providing services there since early September; proposed 28-day, overnight recovery program requires special permit use approval by town council; 14-bed substance abuse recovery center, would serve eight males and six females; two “house managers” — one to supervise women, the other men.

• Next: The town council, which has final authority, will hold a work session and public hearing on the application.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Her son’s heroin addiction came out of nowhere.

Because of a Tai Kwon Do injury, he took a powerful prescription drug to ease the pain, Linda Franklin of Warrenton explained.

But before long, her son became hooked, forced to choose between a $10 pill or heroin to satisfy his addiction, Mrs. Franklin said.

“All of a sudden heroin was in my house.”

Her son died of an overdose in July 2015.

Mrs. Franklin recalled her family’s story Tuesday night during a Warrenton Planning Commission public hearing on a proposal to open a 14-bed addiction recovery center in Old Town.

The McShin Foundation of Richmond seeks special permit approval to operate a 28-day, overnight recovery program at 30 John Marshall St.

“I wish I had heard about” McShin before his death, because “it would have been a life-saver,” said Mrs. Franklin, who called her son “a gift.”

Twenty-seven people, including Mrs. Franklin, spoke in favor of the application and eight against it.

After the nearly two-hour hearing, the planning commission voted, 4-0, to recommend approval of the project.

> Staff report at bottom of story

Parents, including Mrs. Franklin, spoke movingly about family members’ and friends’ battles to overcome addictions — some successful, others not.

Many of the speakers work for and/or have received treatment through McShin and continue to do so.

Faced with seemingly insurmountable addictions, homelessness, unemployment and other challenges, they talked about how McShin rescued them when they seemed doomed.

Steve Worthington completed a 28-day recovery program at a McShin facility in Richmond.

“Within an hour I was provided with a bed and clothing,” Mr. Worthington told the commission.

“They saved my life,” he added.

“The McShin saved my life,” said Joseph Stevens, who also sought to dispel the believe that recovering addicts represent at threat to community.

“We’re not here to cause any problems,” said Mr. Stevens, referring to the proposal. “We’re here to resolve a problem that already exists. Just give us a chance.”

A recovering addict, Chris Whitley shares some of those views.

Mr. Whitley has four homes in Fauquier — three them occupied by recovering addicts.

“People live in your community in recovery,” Mr. Whitley stressed.

“What they need is sustained, safe recovery . . . . If they don’t get it, they’re going to get high, they’re going to get dead.”

Calling himself a “hope dealer,” recovering addict Charles Brooke of Warrenton sought to correct what he considers misperceptions about addicts.

“They’re not bad people trying to get good, but sick people trying to get well,” said Mr. Brooke, who visits addicted inmates at the county jail.

Mental Health Association of Fauquier President Tony Hooper told the commission his organization supports the application.

Opponents included business people and residents who believe the proposed center would devalue their property and pose safety problems for clients, employees, families, and nearby day-care providers.

While they support services for recovering addicts, they consider the John Marshall Street site “inappropriate” for the center.

Jim Lawrence owns two office condominiums that house his direct marketing firm in a building adjacent to the McShin center.

Mr. Lawrence, a Warrenton resident, considers drug addiction a “medical problem” that requires a “medical solution.”

Such a “medical facility” should be in an area more suited to the proposed use, he told the commission.

Mr. Lawrence acknowledges the need for addiction recovery services.

But, “I don’t think the special permit was debated on its actual merits,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “The question is whether this use for a residential/medical drug addiction center in the Central Business District is appropriate or not? I think the planning commission was swayed by the emotion of the testimony (of proponents), not the application.”

Julie Nelson and other members of an investment group own three office condominiums at Waterloo Center behind the McShin building.

Taking an “academic approach” to the application, Ms. Nelson told the commission her homework showed that the value of property close to such a facility could decline up to 17 percent.

Bob Rust and his family live on Chestnut street, two blocks from the McShin center.

Mr. Rust expressed concern about the proposal’s effect on property values and the community.

He suggested a site near Fauquier Hospital might be more suitable.

Moments before the vote, planning commission Vice Chairman John Kip praised staff for its thorough work on the application and the proposed conditions governing the property’s use as a recovery center.

Because of that, “I am comfortable with how we have addressed this” project, Mr. Kip said.

Commissioners Christine Dingus, Ryan Stewart and Ali Zarabi also voted for the application.

Planning Commissioner Anna Maas abstained from voting because she couldn’t make up her mind about the proposal.

Commission Chairman Susan Rae Helander didn’t attend the meeting because of a previous commitment.

McShin co-founder and President John Shinholser, who spoke at length during the hearing about the nonprofit’s history, mission and success, believes the evening went well.

“I think it was a healthy example of civic engagement and community vetting,” Mr. Shinholser said. ‘This is what makes America America.”

But, “it ain’t a done deal,” he added.

McShin next must persuade the town council, which has final authority, to approve the proposal, Mr. Shinholser said.

The council may hold work session and public hearing on the proposal in December.

“We were a good face and voice of recovery,” Mr. Shinholser said. “We helped move the needle and reduce the stigma” of addiction recovery.

“We shook a few (opponents) off the fence, but there’s still a core of entrenchment.”

In April, Fauquier County’s jail — with the help of McShin — started a “peer-to-peer” counseling program.  

McShin and other groups in September began providing free counseling at the John Marshall Street building.

The property's Central Business District zoning allows that use of the structure "by-right."

Founded in 2004, McShin, operates an apartment building and group homes with 170 beds for recovering addicts in and around Richmond.

SUP 2017-06 - Staff Report-PC by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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BJ · November 24, 2017 at 8:55 pm
Jim, yes they need help yet there has to be a point when we have to stop enabling the addict by always trying to help them. They need to help themselves at some point. I personally know a family that has spent $$$ in rehab fees, lawyer fees, hospital fees, and the young man keeps getting high once he comes out of rehab or jail. I say it's time to lock him up for his and his family's sanity. Stop blaming the drug and start holding the addict accountable!
Jim Griffin · November 23, 2017 at 10:06 am
This is a problem for the Surgeon General, not the Attorney General, and so I offer unconditional support for treatment facilities and medical intervention.

Agreed with BJ, it's a decision, but one loaded with consequences that are best addressed with a qualified medical professional standing nearby. I have great respect for our sheriff and our police, but these teams are better equipped to stop people with guns, not hypodermic needles.
Kimlacyltd · November 22, 2017 at 11:44 pm
Of course people make excuses, this disease is deeply rooted with guilt and shame. The fact is, people need and are seeking help for their disease, and if we can help make that happen, why would we stand in the way? This war For drugs was invented; That sir, was the beginning.
BJ · November 22, 2017 at 9:40 pm
Addiction doesn't come out of "nowhere". It has a beginning and an end. You have to start, then either decide to stop or die. Too many people making excuses for their or their loved ones weaknesses.
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