Submitted by Jill Stockton
How is it possible for a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility for severely emotionally disturbed children aged 6-17 to be placed smack dab in the middle of a quiet, residential neighborhood full of elementary school-aged children? How is it possible for such a facility to be located miles away from hospital, police, fire and other public services when response times are laggard? How is it possible for said facility to open in a neighborhood without any notice to current residents?
This is exactly what City of Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, Ward 5 Council member Neoma Jardon and the State of Nevada are allowing to happen at 2840 Sandestin Drive in northwest Reno.
Residents of Reno beware. You, too, could see a for-profit psychiatric treatment facility open its doors next to your house – with no notice given; no notice required. Businesses such as this are popping-up, or are trying to pop-up, in Old Southwest Reno, Sparks, Washoe Valley, and now, Northwest Reno.
Knowing this single-family home has been permitted by the City to be remodeled in order to function as a nearly 6,000-sq.-ft. money-generating business feels like a serious violation. It also creates a considerable breach of trust between current Sandestin Drive residents, city and state elected officials, and State Division of Health and Human Services professionals.
Officials and elected representatives have turned their backs on constituents by permitting these types of for-profit businesses to operate in highly residential neighborhoods while excluding and eliminating current residents from the public process. In the case of 2840 Sandestin, several residents living on or near Sandestin Drive reached out to Council member Jardon for information and assistance on the issue. Many also contacted Mayor Schieve.
Jardon, by way of her community liaison, sent each neighbor the same form response: “Group Homes are allowed by-right in all residential zoning districts, and no public hearing or public notice is required.”
While this may be legal, it sure feels very wrong. What also feels wrong is the manner in which Jardon chose to disregard the residents in Ward 5. Don’t the residents of this neighborhood have a right to know what is happening next door?
The City also stated, in its form response to residents, “Group Homes should ‘blend into the surrounding neighborhood.’”
When the facility at 2840 Sandestin is operational – thanks to permits issued by the city allowing for a two-story, 1,923-sq.-ft. addition to the existing 3,000-sq.-ft. single-family dwelling – it will have: 1. changed use from residential to commercial; 2. be classified as a group home by the city, but will actually function as a “Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility;” and 3. will be nearly 6,000 sq. ft. in size.
Residents do not understand how the city can state this property will “blend in” when it is nearly three times the size of the average home in this neighborhood. Residents also do not understand how all of the extra traffic, parking needs and safety will be addressed once this business opens, or how it will affect neighborhood home values. Residents have a deep desire to learn WHO will be living in this facility. How many patients will live there and how many staff will be on site to care for the patients? Who will regulate this business?
This should serve as a wake-up call to all Reno residents. Officials at the city are making decisions to change the composition of our neighborhoods, and the best part is, they don’t even have to tell residents what is happening. Our neighborhood is changing and yours could be changing too. Do you want to see a business such as this, a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility for severely emotionally disturbed children, open as a business next to your house too?
Jill Stockton is a long-time resident of Sandestin Drive in northwest Reno. She is interested in raising awareness around issues impacting her neighborhood, her children and family. She is interested in working to change City of Reno policy when it comes to notifying neighbors regarding business being placed in residential areas.
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