David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health Collier County expansion could impact neighbors

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
Rendering of new building for the David Lawrence Centers. CREDIT: DAVID LAWRENCE CENTERS

A facility that helps those struggling with mental health and drug addiction wants to expand to a Collier County neighborhood but would consequently impact those living nearby.

Although the new building could be viewed positively, not everyone agrees.

They’re planning on the building being 18,000 square feet and right next to a home that’s on the lot already.

David Lawrence argues the center is trying to keep up with the need for mental health and addiction facilities, while some neighbors are saying to find somewhere else.

David Lawrence would build the facility with 24 single occupancy rooms right next to a house.

“We’re very excited about the expansion to Hope Home,” said Scott Burgess, the president and CEO of David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health.

However, before Burgess can expand, he needs Collier County to approve a zoning change.

“We’ve operated for 55 years in Collier County, we’ve really tried to be exceptional neighbors as well, as exceptional providers of behavioral health, treatment and support in our community,” said Burgess.

Michael Rizzo is among those leading to fight against David Lawrence’s expansion plan. He told WINK News that a large group home is not good for the neighborhood and not good for the people who need the help. He said he bases that on his 40 years of experience in mental health.

“It’s institutional, even though they dressed it up to not look institutional, and I would like to see the commissioners be receptive to the will of the people. I would like a compromise on the number, not the concept of people,” said Rizzo. “And I call it a civic duty to help with sober houses distributed more evenly across Collier County, not all loaded into one spot. Seems reasonable.”

The estimated cost of the new complex is $6 million. If approved, the people who would live there would have to agree to a curfew on the weekdays starting at 10:30 p.m. and ending at 5 a.m. On the weekends, the curfew would be from midnight to 5 a.m.

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