SOUTHINGTON – Drug rehabilitation and sober living could be used for the former Lincoln College buildings on Mount Vernon Road, according to the owner's plans.
Other options for the dormitory and campus buildings, including veterinary, hospice and day care for adults.
Real estate owners have been trying to find a buyer or tenant for the closed college campus since Lincoln College of New England closed last year. During talks with the Planning and Zoning Commission last month, they tried to get an idea of the uses the city could approve of the site.
Commissioners said little and asked the owners to come back with more detailed plans.
Urban planner Rob Philips said the plan submitted last month was a conceptual master plan.
"It is really a 10,000 foot view at this point and I do not think I would like to recommend it. The commission, which gives a license, grants approval without checking who the tenants are “Said Philips.
Potential tenants want to know if the city offers support for moving to a location. According to Philips, property owners can market the property better if they get approval for a variety of uses.
"It is an attempt to eliminate a small risk for every tenant, developer," he said.
While describing the situation as unusual, the city's conceptual plan for a sports complex approved in 2015 was similar.
Special Permit Uses
The campus is owned by Dennis Terwilliger, president of Briarwood Realty Inc., said the approval would allow him to attract tenants for the vacant property . He described another school's chances of wanting the campus as "remote".
"Once we have these permits, we can actually talk to potential people," Terwilliger said. "The process has to be the city first."
Terwilliger's plan lists the uses that are permitted on the property after approval of the special permit. These include convalescent homes, surgical centers, psychiatric offices and physiotherapy. Sober accommodation has been proposed for some of the former dormitories.
Philips said the use of special permits can be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission, but does not have to be approved. For example, commissioners can take into account how well a particular use fits into the neighborhood.
The Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the application for Tuesday at 7pm. at the John Weichsel Municipal Center, 200 N. Main St.
Patrick Rolling, a 15-year-old resident of Mount Vernon Road, said he had the use of changed The campus property from education to drug rehabilitation was unfair to the region's owners. These facilities would be better in commercial areas, he said, not in residential areas where people don't work at home during the day.
Rolling used to live in Cheshire. The prison there attracted friends and relatives of the inmates, some of whom posed no problems for the neighbors and some which caused problems. He is concerned about a similar situation with a drug rehabilitation facility.
He also expects property values to suffer if the commission approves the plan.
“Who wants to be near drug rehabilitation in a dorm? Area? "Rolling said.
Terwilliger said that all patients in a rehab facility would be sober and under strict supervision. He did not expect that it would cause problems for the neighbors.
"This community will be alcohol and drug free because it has to be successful," said Terwilliger, "I don't see it as a threat to anyone. These people are recovering from an illness. “