KEMAH — Residents upset about a drug rehabilitation facility to operate out of what was once an “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” house, on Wednesday urged the City Council to reject a request for a waiver on parking requirements.
The council voted unanimously to postpone a decision on the request from Kemah Palms Recovery until its next meeting. The group must ask for the creation of a new code to reduce the number of parking spaces required.
Because the rehabilitation center is classified as a medical facility, there are no city parking codes specific to its operation.
The proposal spurred opposition from some of the facility’s neighbors, many who said they didn’t know about its intended purpose until recently.
Residents near the facility at 1301 Delesandri Lane said they were upset that the home would be used for commercial purposes although it’s listed as residence in property records.
The house was built in 2010 as part of the ABC television series “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” It was built for Larry and Melissa Beach’s family. In addition to their four children, the Beaches fostered nine others, many of whom were special-needs children. One of the Beach’s children died and others moved away, so they no longer needed a 5,000-square-foot home.
The Beaches lost their original home to Hurricane Ike in 2008 and were living in trailer homes until the TV show. The Beaches sold the “Extreme Makeover” house earlier this year.
Former Houston Oilers player Butch Woolfolk and his wife, Regina, who are part owners of the recovery center, bought the property May 30.
The 5,000-square-foot building has enough room for 14 beds and fits the plans for the owners of Kemah Palms Recovery. Because there are no strict zoning laws in the city, the council cannot stop Kemah Palms Recovery from operating.
Neighbors who spoke said they were worried about their property values and the type of people who would be coming for treatment.
Doug Poole, a lawyer who lives in the neighborhood, said he is skeptical about the nature of the rehabilitation facility. He came to the meeting for more information.
“We’re still learning what the true facts are, but I don’t like the way it’s being represented,” he said. “To me, it’s never a good idea to put a facility like that in a neighborhood. I’d be outraged if it was next door to me.”
Tony Chapman, a co-owner of the facility, said rumors about the center being used as a halfway house are untrue.
“Most of these will be professional men, high income, who will be required to be in the facility by a physician or employer,” Chapman said. “Until the doctor releases them, they cannot leave the property unless it’s with supervised employees.”
Those requirements only pertain to people who enter the facility with insurance, however. Those who pay the $55,000 for the 30-day stay in cash are free to come and go as they like, Chapman said.
As for the concern for property values falling, Chapman said, “we are investing more than $750,000 dollars and have no interest in seeing property values falling.
“We want to be a good neighbor.”
The council is scheduled to meet again July 16 to discuss the parking variance request.