Mountainside withdraws drug rehab application

There will be no second public hearing for the proposed drug rehabilitation facility on Old West Mountain Road.

The applicant, Mountainside, has decided to withdraw both its applications — one to amend the town’s zoning regulations to add a new special permit use for an “Extended Residence Care Facility” within the town’s R-AAA residential zone and another other to establish a facility on four parcels of residentially zoned land.

"As people who not only work, but live in and love Connecticut, Mountainside management and staff are intimately acquainted with The Town of Ridgefield and its surrounding area," said Artemis Partners, a New York-based venture capitalist firm that owns of Mountainside, in a letter sent to the Planning and Zoning Commission Monday, Jan. 16.

"As mentioned previously we have treated over 158 individuals with a Ridgefield address since 2004," the letter said. "Over the past few months it has become clear to us that the residents in the immediate vicinity of 162 Old West Mountain Road are not in favor of our application. Despite strong support from several prominent Ridgefield residents, we are not seeking to create this level of disharmony in the community.

"While we know that this proposed project is misunderstood and misrepresented by the Ridgefield Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, we would rather not operate this program where the treatment of our clients could be in jeopardy due to the strong negative opinions of neighbors."

Almost 200 residents attended the application's first and only public hearing at East Ridge Middle School on Jan. 3, with 11 speaking — all against the facility — and 24 more set to give public comment at the next hearing scheduled for Feb. 7.

Several residents, growing impatient during the applicant's 90-minute presentation, interrupted Mountainside Vice President Matt Eakin and the applicant’s engineer.

“We don’t want you here,” one man in the crowd said.

Another man, a local Realtor, stood up and said the applicant was wasting the commission’s time.

Both comments drew a round of applause from the room.

Prior to the public hearing, residents in the area formed the Ridgefield Neighborhood Preservation Alliance on Nov. 29 to maintain residential zoning regulations.

At a Nov. 15, zoning meeting more than 100 residents squeezed into the Town Hall Annex to watch the commission receive the application and show that they were opposed what it proposed.

Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti said the zoners did not have a comment on Mountainside's withdrawal Monday, which was sent to the town by attorney Casey Healy.

"We would like to thank the Planning and Zoning Board for considering our application and facilitating the town meetings; we all know what a tremendous amount of time and effort it has been," Artemis Partner wrote in the attached withdrawal letter.

"Unfortunately, addiction and substance abuse are only gaining momentum, not only in Ridgefield but throughout Connecticut and the nation."