By ELIZABETH BEILMAN
Adults living with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders have a place in Jeffersonville they can call home while still receiving support and care.
Waterford Village, a residential group home located on Kehoe Lane for mentally ill adults, was approved for rezoning with a variance at both the Jeffersonville Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals meetings Tuesday.
Summer Reschar, executive director of Waterford Village and a state licensed social worker, said the facility that has been operating for about a year is for adults needing an in-between home.
“They can’t quite live on their own, but they don’t need to be in an institutional setting,” Reschar said.
The property at 1014 Kehoe Lane will be rezoned from small-to-medium commercial property to old city residential, which allows a maximum of four bedrooms. The approved variance, or exception, to the zoning will allow for five or more bedrooms in the facility, which currently has six bedrooms.
“Through previous work history and experience, I learned that there’s not a lot of facilities for adults with mental illness in our community, so I wanted to open a place that was specific for them that could give them the proper care that they need so that they can thrive and decrease hospitalization,” she said.
Jeffersonville Director of Planning and Zoning Shane Corbin said the current zoning of Waterford Village doesn’t really fit in.
“It is an island of commercial [property] surrounded by residential property,” Corbin said, adding whoever previously zoned the building decided its former use was better suited for commercial purposes. “That use is gone, but the [commercial zoning] has stayed with the property that’s been out there, lingering.”
The rest of the board agreed, voting in unanimous approval.
“I don’t have a problem with it being rezoned as there’s nothing else commercial around it,” Connie Sellers, board member, said. “It’s all residential.”
Reschar said that all of the residents at Waterford Village come from hospital recommendations only and go through an admissions process.
“I know with mental illness people get nervous and afraid,” she said. ‘We do not take anyone off the street, we are not a homeless shelter, people don’t knock on the door and stay if they don’t have anywhere to go.”
An assessment involves speaking to doctors, social workers, family members and verifying through online records that residents don’t have a history of violence, sexual abuse or felony convictions.
“It’s safe. We don’t have a bunch of unstable, violent people there,” Reschar said, defining unstable as manic, suicidal or homicidal behavior.
Waterford Village is staffed at all hours by two certified nursing assistants, which is one more than what is required by the state.
“We would want to make sure that it’s regulated, safe ... so I’d rather take precautionary measures,” Reschar said.
The nurses go through training every payday, she said.
“So they are well-educated on triggers, behaviors, things to look for, those kinds of things,” she said.
The 7,000 square-foot home on four and a half acres of property has six upstairs bedrooms, some of which are private and some with two beds. The facility also has an indoor swimming pool in the basement which is undergoing renovations. The home has a security alarm system that would notify staff when someone leaves.
Reschar said the facility currently has seven residents but she hopes to house as many as 15.
Both approvals were passed without opposition from the public, and a few piped up in support from their seats.
PERRIN POINT II PLANS
The only other item on the docket at the planning commission meeting was the final plat, or map plans, for a proposed subdivision at 2405 Utica Pike.
Plans for the development, called Perrin Point II, were unanimously approved at the meeting, which will allow the project to move forward given that the city’s engineers OK everything.
The plan commission voted last month to approve the rezoning of the property from low-density residential to planned development use that would allow the subdivision to be built.
A 15,000 square-foot historic home built by John Hoffman in the 1890s sits on the property and will be converted into a duplex while still preserving its antique quality.
Nineteen homes for sale mimicking Queen Anne-style architecture will join the 110-year-old house on the same property.
Houses in Perrin Point II, adjacent to an existing subdivision called Perrin Point I, will be about 7,500 square feet.
Units in the front section of the development will go for $439,000 and in the back section for $339,000.
Some discussion was brought up at the meeting concerning public and private roads.
The board said that the main road going through the development, Turnberry Drive, has been a public road and will be plowed by the city after snowfall. The only roads that are private are the short streets between houses, and maintenance of those will be up to the homeowners association.