Gilbert Seeks Stricter Rules For Rehabs, Group Homes

Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 5:00am
Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 5:05am

The Gilbert Town Council will vote on more restrictive rules for group and sober living homes at its meeting Thursday.

Often in residential areas, these businesses serve people with developmental disabilities or those recovering from addiction.

The zoning change would cut the number of people allowed from 10 to five and require a 1,200 foot separation between similar group and sober living homes.

There are 126 group homes and recovery residences in the town of Gilbert — much less than half of 1 percent of all homes there.

Jeff Marsh has spoken up at previous meetings about the rules. He owns a sober home in Chandler and says these rules would stop a planned Gilbert expansion.  

“A, that’s less people to help people to get support for their fight against this disease, and B, it’s economically unfavorable for me, and I would have to close my business,” Marsh said.

Dozens of residents have voiced concerns to Gilbert about trash, traffic problems and noise they say come from the homes.

Marsh said these concerns stem from poorly managed homes that other town ordinances about noise and parking would better restrict this behavior.

Group homes are licensed by the state, which caps residents at 10. In this case, Gilbert would defer to state rule if the group homeowner asked for a reasonable accommodation.

Recovery residences are not licensed by the state, and Gilbert seeks to limit their residents to five.

Gilbert staff also propose a 1,200-foot distance requirement between group homes and recovery residences. This is based on a typical town-block length, which is from 800 to 1,200 feet.

However, group-home and recovery-residence owners are able to ask the town for “reasonable accommodation” should the proposed regulations pass.

Gilbert’s attorney Michael Hamblin provided the following statement in response to KJZZ’s request for an interview.

“Gilbert Town Council will be considering proposed ordinance amendments lowering the permitted residency at group and sober homes from its current 10 to 5, and prohibiting group and sober homes from locating less than 1,200 feet from each other. These changes are subject to requests for reasonable accommodation pursuant to federal law under both the American With Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Gilbert will adhere to federal law.”

If you like this story, Donate Now!