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Proposed treatment center gets a big boost in zoning dispute

The city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has been the center of a contentious dispute involving the local zoning board. A local developer wishes to build a drug and alcohol treatment facility near a private school, and has met strident opposition. Critics of this effort say it's inappropriate to build a treatment center near a place where there are so many children. However, proponents of the facility received the support of former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Dickie Noles, who is a recovering alcoholic himself.

Plans to build the 70-bed facility in a former church near the school were met with opposition from concerned parents and school administrators. They are worried about the potential dangers recovering drug addicts and alcoholics pose to children. Additionally, the school is worried about what could happen to recruiting and enrollment.

During a testimony in front of the Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board, Noles gave strong support to the efforts to build the treatment center. The former World Series great noted how his life was changed for the better when he admitted himself to a treatment center. He continued by saying he sees no threat to the school or students, based on his experience.

Noles finished his testimony by concluding that he could not "think of a place where a rehabilitation facility doesn't belong."

A Pennsylvania elementary school principal was among the others testifying in favor of the proposal. His school is very close to a treatment center and the students have not been negatively impacted. In fact, he said the school has become more secure.

Zoning hearings can be very emotional and bitter, especially when disputing parties have an emotional stake in the issues. Both sides of this issue might have legitimate concerns, but the facts and strength of a case are what will prevail.

Source: Bethlehem Patch, "Former Phillie Pitches for Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center," Alice More, Jan. 27, 2012

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