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Sober Living Permit Denied in Ossipee But Fight Continues

Property Listing

A proposal to open up a home for people recovering from addiction in Ossipee was rejected by town officials last week.

But people who support the project haven’t given up.

The plan called for a 20-bed sober living facility for women in a big, white Victorian house off Main Street. But zoning officials worried it was too close to a local elementary school. The permit was denied on a 3-2 vote. There were also fears the home would impact property values.

Eric Spofford, who runs a handful of other sober homes in New Hampshire,  is the one who pitched this project to the town.

“These are people that want to be there, that want to be sober, that want to be accepted into a community, find connection in a community, get jobs. They don’t want to live in the grips of substance use disorder anymore," Spofford said.

Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Eric Spofford is in long-term recovery himself. He's been running sober living housing in N.H. since 2006.

Under the proposal, residents would have had to complete a 30-day inpatient treatment program before moving in and would have to abide by a strict drug-free policy. 

Spofford said the reason for denying the permit isn't even legal.  He said it violates the federal Fair Housing Act, which protects people with a substance abuse disorder.

“Speaking of them as if they were violent criminals, as if they were inmates. There was talk of – 'what if they escape?' They want to be there, they are not trying to escape. They want to be sober, they are pursuing their recovery here.”

Spofford said if officials again deny a permit, he plans to bring the town to court.

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