Zoning board to decide on Cornerstone Laine

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Tuesday night, the Waterloo Planning Commission drafted a list of conditions it will recommend be included in a special use permit for the proposed Cornerstone Laine recovery residence planned at 228 Mueller Lane.

On Wednesday night, the Waterloo Zoning Board of Appeals may choose to adopt these recommendations fully or amend them however they see fit. They will vote to approve or deny the special use request. The meeting is at 7:30 p.m in the Waterloo High School auditorium.

These conditions were drafted after much discussion from the planning commission board and the public. Key conditions include specifying the facility is women-only, facility inspections are to be done every six months, clients are to have detoxed before arriving to the facility, each client is allowed a visitor once a week after one month of residency, and clients are not allowed to have a car or a job while residing at the facility. Security features include an alarm system, 24-hour supervision and locked doors and windows. Residents are to be there voluntarily, not as part of a court-mandated program.

Before opening the floor to public comment, Waterloo Planning Commission Chairman Nathan Rau said the board had reviewed all letters for and against Cornerstone Laine. After receiving legal advice, the board determined prohibiting Cornerstone Laine from setting up shop in its desired location could open the city up to potential discrimination lawsuits under the Fair Housing Act.

According to Rau’s understanding, disability due to addiction is the same status as disability due to age in the eyes of the law.

With that in mind, the board asked public comments to focus on what conditions the board could recommend.

“So, I would encourage those who would like to speak, if you could speak to the conditions, that would be most helpful to us to understand your concerns, how we can address those and how we can alleviate them,” Rau told attendees Tuesday night.

Concerned residents of homes and businesses nearby the proposed recovery residence took the floor. One attendee’s concern of the gender of the residents helped prompt the board to include that the residents are to be “women only” in their recommended conditions.

Another repeatedly discussed topic was security concerns and what the recovery residence could mean for the town.

Stephanie Hunter, owner of a nearby salon that she said shares a property line with the site of Cornerstone Laine, among others were worried about what the residence could mean for Waterloo. 

“I don’t think any amount of fencing or foliage around the property is going to safeguard our community, whether it is a month from now, a year from now, 10 years from now, 30 years from now you are going to watch our community decline,” Hunter said, later adding, “What happens when my clients don’t want to come to me anymore, when they don’t want to be there after dark and that affects my business?”

Cornerstone Laine owner Leisa Martinez addressed the board after hearing from concerned community members. She pointed out that other businesses, such as bars, do not face the same scrutiny when getting ready to open.

The Republic-Times will release another story after Wednesday’s Zoning Board meeting. 

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