By Mike Melanson
Express Associate Editor
PLYMPTON — The Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, Jan. 13, met and opened a public hearing on an appeal filed by neighbors of an occupancy permit granted to a men’s retreat for addiction recovery at 55 Brook St., the Brook Retreat.
ZBA Chairman David Alberti said the meeting lasted for two-and-one-half hours and included comments from attorneys representing neighbors, Brook Retreat and the town, from a Brook Retreat resident from Kingston under treatment for addiction, and from the public.
“It was a well attended event. I’ve been on the ZBA for a number of years and didn’t see one this well attended,” Alberti said.
Tuesday’s ZBA hearing was continued to Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Plympton Town House.
Alberti said Brook Retreat’s principals invited ZBA members to do a walk-through of 55 Brook St. on Monday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m., in order for members to view the living conditions, see the facility and ask questions.
All three selectmen attended Tuesday’s hearing, although none spoke, and a lot of abutters also attended, he said.
Neighbor Larry Richmond is appealing a building permit granted by acting Zoning Enforcement Officer Thomas Millias that allows occupancy of as many as 10 people, plus two staff members, at 55 Brook St.
Richmond said neighbors do not question the integrity or intentions of Brook Retreat’s principals, but oppose letting them rent to more than the four people allowed under town bylaw.
He said the proponents should prove that they qualify for state exemptions to town zoning for educational programs, and neighbors should not have to prove that Brook Retreat does not.
“It’s still a jump ball, I think,” he said. “We’re doing what we feel is right. We’re fighting it.”
Joseph Carroll, co-director of Brook Retreat, declined comment.
Carroll said Brook Retreat would have a resource table at a heroin and opiate abuse forum and resource expo, hosted and moderated by state Rep. Tom Calter, D-Kingston, to be held Feb. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Silver Lake Regional High School.