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Dixon looks to hire outside counsel to remedy sober home zoning issues

The house is located at 403 East Fellows in Dixon.

DIXON – The city plans to hire outside counsel to help develop a special zoning designation for sober and recovery homes.

Sauk Valley Voices of Recovery recently withdrew its petition to have 403 E. Fellows St. designated a “lodging house” for the purpose of opening a sober living facility after finding out that a sober home wouldn’t fit into the city’s current zoning categories.

Gaylloyd “Gerry” Lott Jr., executive director of Voices and trustee of the 403 E. Fellows Street Land Trust, bought the home in central Dixon in November for $150,000. The intention was to create a sober living home for up to 11 men recovering from substance abuse disorder, and two staff members.

Gerald Lott, director of Sauk Valley Voices of Recovery, tours a building in Dixon on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, which is being converted into a home for men who are recovering from alcohol or drug addictions.

A sober living home is one in which abusers who have completed rehab live for a time, getting treatment and supporting one another while they attend school, find jobs and work on their recovery. It’s a way to keep them from returning to their previous environments, where they used, had friends who used, and likely don’t have the services and support needed to maintain their sobriety.

A local neighborhood group has formed to oppose having a sober living home in a residential area.

City Manager Danny Langloss said the city plans to hire an outside law firm to help with the process because of certain complexities and federal regulations.

The city is also planning to host a town hall, tentatively scheduled for the week of June 6, to have experts talk about sober and recovery homes, provide a forum for residents to give input and voice concerns, and speak to how such homes could impact a neighborhood, Langloss said.

The goal is to provide education, involvement and engagement for residents with the forum, he added. No decisions will be made at the town hall.

The Sinnissippi Recovery Home at 922 W. Washington Ave., a former Kreider Services group home, has been a sober living house for up to 10 men since May 30, 2018. It, too, is not zoned correctly and will become part of the recovery home zoning analysis.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.