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Astoria Planning Commission denies group home request

By Ally McEntire

The Daily Astorian

The planning commission denied an application by Klean Astoria-OR LLC. to increase the capacity of a high-density residential area home to house more women recovering from substance abuse.

The Astoria Planning Commission denied the request to change the conditional use of a Harrison Avenue home to a group living facility after hearing concerns about parking and on-site management.

Klean Astoria-OR LLC is a private, for-profit sober living home which is intended to provide a structured environment for women focused on recovery. The home where five women currently reside is at 1188 Harrison Ave. and falls under single-family use which allows one family and up to four unrelated people living in one place.

The corporation would like to increase the number of residents to nine or 10 to cover costs of running and maintaining the historic house.

Milt Parham spoke on behalf of Klean and said the Harrison House wants to be a good neighbor within the community. However, nearby residents listed observations of the opposite and spoke up about concerns with the current parking situation.

Rojeina Hocken said in the last month she has had her home broken into and, since she keeps odd hours, has been awake to see the women living in the house “fraternizing with male companions.”

“I have always felt safe until recently,” she said.

LaRee Johnson said she woke up to go the kitchen “well after most people are in bed.” It was 10:20 p.m. she said, when a car with a loud muffler and music blaring drove up to the home and waited for a woman to get into the vehicle.

Many were concerned with parking because the house is located near two religious centers – the St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church and the Astoria Christian Church.

Frank Lloyd, pastor of the Christian Church, lives in the neighborhood and said the parking is already crowded, especially on Sunday and Wednesday nights, when his congregation holds services.

“Visitors (to the Harrison house) could be a problem,” he said.

“When there are more people, there are more problems.”

As a single-family residence, the house already has two street parking spots designated to it. Parham said even with the increased women, he did not foresee using more than two spaces.

“Many of the residents have limited capacity to drive or afford auto insurance,” he said.

Though visiting hours are set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Parham said these can be changed because that time is a period of high parking use. He also said placing stickers on approved cars could be a concession to neighbor concerns.

Most of the Planning Commission and neighborhood residents agreed they had reservations about the on-site manager being only available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a drop-in basis.

The commission moved to deny the motion to change the conditional use. Commissioner David Pearson was the only commissioner to vote against the motion and Commissioner Sean Fitzpatrick excused himself from the discussion because of conflict of interest.

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