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A no vote on group home in Kensington Hill.
The story will be in the paper later this week, but this afternoon, the Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of a special exception for Your Bridge Foundation to operate a group home for eight women recovering from alcohol or drug addiction in the Kensington Hill neighborhood off Lafayette Boulevard. See our previous story on this issue here.
Your Bridge started operating the home in January without getting any approvals from the city or the homeowners’ association in Kensington. Their case is unique, because most group homes that ask permission from the city to operate must get that permission before they start up their programs. However, Your Bridge is actively using the single-family home in Kensington as a home for five women as it seeks an exception from the city zoning ordinance that prohibits more than three unrelated individuals from living in a single-family home.
The city issued a notice of zoning violation on the home in April, and Your Bridge appealed it, although the group has asked that its hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals be postponed for the past three months.
The group has argued that the city is required to approve the special exception to avoid violating the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on a number of factors, including handicap, which addiction is considered. The act requires the city to make “reasonable accommodation” to afford handicapped people a fair shot at housing in the city.
But Planning Commissioners didn’t see how allowing eight women to live in the half-million-dollar home in Kensington was a “reasonable accommodation.”
Your Bridge had said one of the reasons it needed the accommodation was to make the payments on the house, 100 percent of the price of which is mortgaged. Among other problems they had with the group’s lack of a track record and failure to answer questions that other group homes that have gotten zoning approval in the city have answered, Planning Commissioners said they shouldn’t be asked to allow more people in the house just because it has an expensive mortgage.
More to come in the paper, but this is just one step in the process. The BZA is scheduled to hear the group’s appeal in August, and the zoning matter will now go to the City Council for action.