A few months ago, the City of Boynton Beach, in an effort to comply with federal law mandating that zoning authorities not discriminate against treatment providers, endeavored to craft a balanced zoning ordinance which allowed residential inpatient treatment uses in the city, albeit limiting their location without justification or cause. However, rather than “call in the cavalry” and attack the ordinance as being facially discriminatory and without factual basis, we asked the Treatment Community to give the City a chance and see how this would all play out over the coming months.
Low and behold, when the first provider sought site plan approval at an approved site, the City Commission showed their fangs and immediately denied the application, notwithstanding compliance with all site planning criteria, under the premise that “those people are dangerous to our communities.” Statements such as “we don’t care what the law says, we are protecting our community” could be heard at City Hall, as it is within City Halls across our nation.
As a result, the City Commission is now holding another workshop to further limit where these necessary uses may be placed.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the County, the Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with a large and varied demographic of educational and service providers, held the Annual Drug Summit, where elected leaders (with the exception of local elected leaders) spoke about the need to de-institutionalize drug treatment, end the stigma, and help people at the local level, rather than inappropriately criminalize their disorder, which has been national and state public policy for over 30 years. While “It takes a village” was the clear theme of that gathering, no one wants it in their village. Not In My Backyard (NIMBY).
Sadly, another city is going to have to learn the hard way that making a certain class of people sit at the back of the bus, or refuse to allow them to sit at the lunch counter, violates the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Protection Clause, and over-arching public policy that discrimination based upon disease will not be tolerated.
What is more saddening is that some of the same elected officials (and neighbors) vociferously objecting to the use are from an ethnic population who suffered tremendously under an evil regime which is rightfully equated with all that is vile in our world history. Yet, they have no qualms about using stereotype, conjecture, and fear, to protect “us” from “them.”
If the neighbors and elected officials are offended by the attached pictures, they should be. Their actions are antithetical to the office and constitution they swore to uphold. They need to go back to school and re-take basic Civics 101, or at a minimum, take a course in civility.
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