Over the weekend activity at what Borough officials call an “Illegal Recovery House” was observed and shared on social media. The activity led to a number of questions by those in the community.
Morrisville Borough officials said recovery house operations are scheduled to cease on or before December 17 at the N.Delmoor Ave location.
Morrisville Borough originally sought legal relief through the courts by suing The Moyer Group, LLC, Friendship First, Friendship First, LLC, Alexandria Smith, Tina Grady and David Moyer, respectively.
On September 17, a negotiated agreement among the parties was signed, approved.
At an October council meeting the recovery house would be closing down it was announced.
Morrisville Borough Manager Scott Mitchell said on Monday the details of the agreement are public information and anyone could access the documents through the county public documents system for the specific details of the agreement.
The borough came to an agreement with the operators in which the illegal recovery house will cease providing services on or before December 17,.he said
We agreed to provide a 90 day window so the woman currently at the location could seek transfers to other legal recovery houses, Mitchell said.
Solicitor for Morrisville, Flager & Associates representative Michael S. Levin, Esq.explained the agreement this way;
We had filed suit seeking various relief, but primarily injunctive relief, against the operators of the recovery house. Shortly after filing, we were contacted by counsel for the operators, who expressed interest in negotiating a resolution, rather than litigating the case. The terms of that resolution agreement were entered as a consent order to terminate the case. There was no decision by the court. In essence, the agreement gave them 90 days to cease recovery house operations at that address, or be subject to certain penalties.
Representatives for the recovery house declined to comment when contacted on Tuesday morning, however, vice chair of the Bucks County Recovery House Association (BCRHA), Joshua Buchannan, also a practicing attorney, responded to a request for comment on Tuesday.
The recovery house is listed as a member of the Bucks County Recovery House Association (BCRHA) which has a set of guidelines recovery house operators are required to follow and flow from the same measures signed into law in 2017 as part of the Recovery House Act.
Buchanan said “The BCRHA represents a group of owners who have voluntarily joined in an effort to raise standards for Bucks County recovery homes and also provide a means for residents and community members to voice concerns and complaints about issues in the homes. As for the home in Morrisville, it is our understanding that the parties agreed that the recovery house must cease to operate by December 17, 2019. In our previous conversation with Friendship First, I was informed the home will cease to operate after the weekend of December 7, 2019. If the home fails to cease operations at that Morrisville address by December 17, 2019, they will be immediately removed as a member of the BCRHA.”
Buchanan also said “As you know, a variety of municipalities have passed zoning ordinances that are designed to limit or prevent recovery homes from operating in their communities. For example, houses in Bristol Township will not be approved until they are a member of the BCRHA. Thus, to gain approval, they must first be members of the BCRHA. Pursuant to this ordinance, homes necessarily must operate prior to approval by the municipality.”
The above, presents a challenging situation for recovery house operators, Buchanan said because of the “incongruous guidelines” created by local officials and the organizations overseeing the approval of recovery homes wanting to successfully become a member of BCRHA or similar organizations, like the National Alliance of Recovery Residences.
As part of the agreement the property owners are free to sell and or rent the property as per borough code.
On Tuesday it was also confirmed the woman currently living at the N.Delmoor Avenue location are in the process of being successfully transferred to another recovery home in a different municipality so they can continue their recovery process, which everyone involved supports.
This is not the first time a recovery house operator, closed or ceased plans in Morrisville. Banyan Treatment Centers had purchased an apartment complex on Crown Street in 2017.
Plans ceased for a planned recovery house and additional programming in 2018 by Banyan when it became clear requests for a zoning variance would not be approved by borough officials.