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County Council approves Harris House detox center on South River Road

The St. Charles County Council has approved a rezoning and special use permit legislation that will allow an in-patient treatment center for drug and alcohol abuse patients on an 11.53-acre unincorporated tract near the Route 364 interchange with Arena Parkway near the Missouri River.

The council voted 7-0 to approve two bills at its June 26 meeting – one allowing a rezoning to single-family residential with floodway fringe and floodway overlay districts and the other granting a conditional use permit to allow a convalescent home institution. The bills were sought by Harris House, a long-time treatment provider with locations in South St. Louis and Chesterfield. Harris House has a contract on two tracts of land that would be combined to form one tract along Arena Parkway.

The $11 million to $12 million center will be housed in a 44,000-square-foot, two-story building and have up to 60 treatment beds and 40 employees. The facility will have a 101-space parking lot. It will not have a view of the nearby Katy Trail.

“I’d like to welcome Harris House,” said Councilmember Joe Cronin [District 1] before the vote. “Unfortunately I would like it better if we didn’t need a place like Harris House. But with the opiate crisis, we have now this facility is going to save lives and that’s the bottom line.”

The new facility is designed to provide in-patient treatment and detox program for adults age 18 and older requiring a 28-day maximum and will be in competition with other private and not-for-profit treatment programs. It will provide another treatment option for live-in patients dealing with alcohol and particularly opiate and heroin abuse, which are on the rise.

The treatment center proposal drew both protests and support from area residents during a public comment portions of the council meetings.

“How can a special use permit be given to build a drug and rehabilitation facility in a residential zone?” asked Mark Potter, a nearby resident. “It’s not a church or a school.”

However, Joy Ebest, who owns property along South River Road, spoke in support of the facility. “It is something that is needed by the community,” she said. “And I speak as a person that could not find this kind of help that was needed five years and the person died from a drug overdose,” she said.  If the treatment was available then, the person may not have died, she added. “It is needed the [heroin] epidemic is much worse now.”

If the treatment was available then, the person may not have died, Ebest added. “It is needed; the [heroin] epidemic is much worse now.”

Agency officials have said that the facility will not have a negative effect on local property values. The property also is on a bluff area and not prone to flooding from the nearby Missouri River.

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