Neighbors Fight Plans for Sober House in Meriden

An unoccupied duplex on Myrtle Street is the source of contention for many Meriden neighbors, who are pushing back against the city's plan to open up a sober house there.

The city aims to create a drug- and alcohol-free living space at the home for 12 people in recovery, but neighbors, like licensed daycare provider Blanca Mercado, are upset.

"I'm angry. I'm angry because they didn't let us know. I don't think it's fair," said Mercado.

Neighbors say it would be the fourth "sober house" in their area, and with a school bus stop at the corner and kids everywhere, Elizabeth Sanchez, who fosters seven underage girls, fears that this one is just too close.

"My backyard is connected right to theirs, and I have a pool," said Sanchez. "I'm there to help these girls and having these men there, I don't think that's right."

For now, the building stands empty. The city temporarily shut it down, saying the owner did not apply for the necessary certificate to run a sober house and that construction inside the building was started without a permit.

Once that's figured out, city officials say there's not much else they can do.

"The city of Meriden's hands are tied when it comes to zoning. We have to follow the state's guidelines and state's statutes," said Dominick Caruso, director of planning and development for Meriden.

The Department of Mental Health and Additional Services says the home is not affiliated with the state and that anyone can open a "sober house." Since the homes don't provide treatment, they're not required to be licensed.

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