Hawthorn Sober House To Move Ahead Despite Opposition
Although New Bedford residents against the Hawthorn Street sober house made their voices heard on Tuesday night, it might not matter.
Developer, Steve Sheldon held an informational meeting at City Hall on his proposed sober house.
Much of the audience packed into City Hall's Ashely Room showed strong opposition to the idea of a sober living house being placed in a residential zoned neighborhood, including New Bedford city councilors Brian Gomes and Kerry Winterson.
Winterson, who's ward includes the Hawthorn property, says the zoning laws are there to protect single family neighborhoods from developers opening housing projects.
Gomes expressed a similar sentiment during the meeting.
"This is our history in that neighborhood. This is where it all started. This is what we're trying to protect, not discriminate against anyone. We're trying to protect the history of this city, and what that neighborhood is made of," Gomes says.
However, not every person in attendance was against Sheldon's sober living house.
Substance abuse councilor, Thomas Perry tells WBSM News the opioid problem isn't just limited to poor neighborhoods anymore, and many people don't like to see it.
Despite the opposition, Sheldon will continue with his plans to create a sober living house at 49 Hawthorn Street.
He even says residents against the sober living house now, could change their tune once they meet the tenants living there.
"They open and they see that these guys are great neighbors, and invariably, six months, maybe its two months, maybe its a year down the road, these houses are loved by their neighbors," Sheldon says.
Sheldon closed on the Hawthorn property in September. He owns two other sober living houses in Worcester and Lowell.