More than a dozen Elbert County residents gathered at the Elizabeth Library on Dec. 11 to learn more about Healing Pines Recovery, a residential treatment facility being proposed at 5550 County Road …
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More than a dozen Elbert County residents gathered at the Elizabeth Library on Dec. 11 to learn more about Healing Pines Recovery, a residential treatment facility being proposed at 5550 County Road 124. Paul Leafstedt, owner of the property, gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining the details of the facility, and addressed concerns expressed by residents.
Emotions ran high, as many residents expressed a need for the treatment facility, but feared it would bring their property values down, draw on limited emergency resources, pose a risk for family members and bring adverse behaviors by recovering addicts to their community.
Leafstedt is applying for a special use by review through the county, and the first step in the process requires him to inform all of his neighbors and meet with them to discuss his plan.
“All of the surrounding neighbors were present,” said Leafstedt. “They all carried the very much shared NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude. They all said: `We feel people definitely need this, what you are doing is great, it’s just not the right spot for it.’”
Leafstedt addressed concerns regarding increased traffic in the area, declaring that traffic will consist of six cars on any given day for staff members. Residents would live at the home and not commute from another location. As for safety, Leafstedt said the success of his business relies heavily on the screening process, and includes a psychiatric evaluation and a criminal background check for residents. The facility would also have security cameras on the property, as well as sensors on all doors and windows, which, if opened, would notify a manager.
As for fears of increased crime, Leafstedt informed residents: “When clients are at the treatment center they are sober, supervised and have 24/7 support. They are safe individuals and pose no threat to others. Being that there is no alcohol use or drug use on the property, it should be considered one of the safer homes in the community. There is no statistical evidence that a residential treatment center increases crime in the area.”
The property covers 40 acres with a 6,500-square-foot home, which would house up to eight residents at a time. According to Leafstedt, the area was chosen because of the rural feel and the opportunity to get residents away from the busy city life so they can focus on their recovery. He hopes to incorporate equine therapy into the program, and use the isolated location to give residents the chance to focus on not only their recovery, but their mind, body and spirit as well through holistic programs. Yoga and horticulture would also be used in the recovery process.
Resident Dave Turley said he would like to see the facility come to fruition.
“Something like that is probably needed in that area, if not now, in the future. There’s nothing readily available there,” said Turley. “The hype about bringing less desirables to the area, well, they’re already there.”
Leafstedt is a Colorado native who earned a degree in mechanical engineering in California. He is also a person in recovery, and addiction runs in his family. He and his mother ran a treatment facility in California, before he decided to move back to Colorado, which he considers home.
“I understand the fears; I have a child myself,” said Leafstedt. “But I have been around addicts and alcoholics and seen some wonderful people.
Leafstedt encourages anyone with concerns or questions about the proposed facility to reach out to him at email@example.com.
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