He added the halfway home was existed for 36 years with no one ever being arrested there and no incidents of violence.

Csandl noted Veterans Sanctuary had been approved by zoning to ultimately contain 60 beds.

He wants 40 beds in the S. 5th Street location because Treatment Trends has 40 in the existing halfway home. He noted budgets are built around utilization of 40 beds.

Wiener stressed the zoning board should not grant variances on the basis of economics.

Wiener also argued that Treatment Trends’ proposal is not even close to complying with the city’s zoning laws.

Veterans Sanctuary

After Treatment Trends acquired the building from St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is directly across S. 5th Street, nearly $2 million was spent to convert the building into an “innovative” residential treatment facility that served military veterans, including those with drug and alcohol problems.

Veterans Sanctuary opened in January 2011. But it only operated for about 10 months, according to Csandl. In that time period, he testified, the operation lost $475,000.

Witnesses testified that Veterans Sanctuary did not get promised funding from local, state and federal sources.

“It was a terrible loss to the veteran community and our own community when we had to close Veterans Sanctuary,” said Csandl.

“We tried to restart it,” said Csandl. “We tried everything we could think of to keep this thing alive.”

Csandl said some veterans will be treated in the halfway home.

The Rev. George Grubb, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran, told the zoning board he was very pleased with the way the veterans treatment center had been operated by Treatment Trends and sad when it had to close.

“I saw it as an extension of our mission as a church,” said Grubb.

He told zoning hearing board that the halfway home should be approved “without a doubt. It’s a great use for the building. It is consistent with our mission as a church.”

The pastor testified that members of his congregation have concerns about center-city crime generated by drugs, but generally support programs that treat addiction, as a way to counter drug-related crime.

Other business

Also during the meeting, the three zoners unanimously approved a three-chair beauty salon in a ground level shop at Jefferson and Walnut Streets. It was a beauty salon in the past, but had been vacant for four years.

Erika Holman, the building owner, is seeking a new tenant. She testified it has been a beauty salon since 1960.

But, by a 2-1 vote, they rejected plans by Baffam Safi for a variance to open a 42-person capacity restaurant at the corner of 5th and Allen streets.

The zoning board heard testimony on that case earlier this month.

“It’s not desirable for the immediate area because of the parking,”
said zoner Michael Engle.

“The proposed application is an overuse of the property,” said zoner Scott Unger.

Only McCarthy supported giving that variance.

Engle said the place had been a taproom many years ago.