Hawkesbury Council approves transitional group home for women

A FACILITY to house women who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, and in some cases escaping domestic violence, has been approved by Hawkesbury Council.

The Gazette has decided not to publish the location of this facility on grounds of privacy.

The facility will be jointly run by Christ Mission Possible and One80TC. It was approved by Hawkesbury Council on November 28.

The vote was 8-4 to follow Council staff’s recommendation to allow the facility.

The facility will be used to house up to 12 women, aged 18-35, who have detoxed from a drug or alcohol addition at another site. The women will spend time at the facility as they try to get their lives back on track.

Women in the facility will subject to strict living conditions. They will not be allowed phones or computers, restrictions will be placed on what they can read or watch on television.

Visits will also not be allowed on-site, however, women in the facility can arrange off-site visits with their case worker.

Some neighbours of the site objected to it. John Casserly and James Benzie spoke against the facility at the Council meeting.

Mr Casserly said the site was putting his children’s safety at risk.

Meg Levy, who represented the applicants, said there was no need to fear those housed at the site.

“The group home is not a detox facility, it is a group facility for women recovering from drug or alcohol addiction,” she said.

“They are not crazed ice users or fresh out of domestic violence … They are women aged 18-35 and have chosen to detox off-site at another facility.”

The plan of management said there would be an-onsite manager present 24 hours a day.

Earlier in the year, Hawkesbury Council refused a similar DA regarding this facility, because councillors felt the uses described in the DA did not meet the zoning requirements.

When it came before Council in March, the DA asked for a boarding house, however, councillors felt it was not a boarding house but a rehabilitation facility.

This time, it has been approved as a transitional group house, which is an allowed use under State Environmental Planning Policy legislation.

Mayor Lyons-Buckett, deputy Mayor Calvert, Cr Reynolds, Cr Garrow, Cr Kotlash, Cr Conolly, Cr Tree and Cr Richards voted for the motion to approve.

Cr Ross, Cr Rasmussen, Cr Wheeler and Cr Zamprogno voted against the motion.