Florida residents fear lack of real-estate recovery due to rehab neighbors

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Residents of a tony Florida community hard-hit by the real estate slide say the wrong kind of recovery is coming to the neighborhood.

Neighbors along the Intercoastal Waterway in ultra-posh Deerfield Beach fear a planned drug and alcohol rehab facility in a 7,000-square-foot mansion will further drive down the value of their homes in a state where the real estate market has cratered in recent years. Even after prices have slid for years, homes in the area still fetch as much as $3 million.

“Rehabs are definitely not good for a neighborhood,” local real estate agent Josh Crunk told FoxNews.com. “Most homeowners feel that an addict can’t get away from bad behavior and they wind up breaking into homes and cars in the neighborhood.”

Residents and city officials claim that TLC Recovery, the group planning to open the treatment center in a neighborhood called The Cove, was not completely honest about what the house was being used for and kept plans for the facility a secret.

"I went personally to the home and talked to the guy who said he's leased it, and he said he's going to live there with his wife and newborn child," Assistant City Manager Kevin Klopp told the Sun-Sentinel.

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Klopp claims that the city researched the legality of opening up a rehab facility in a residential area after scores of residents filed complaints at city hall. What the town discovered was that its hands were tied.

"We're doing everything we know to do," Klopp told the paper. "That’s just not going to satisfy the neighborhood unless we can tell them it's not coming. And that's just not going to happen."

James Green, attorney for TLC, said the company is well within its rights.

"Everyone deserves a fair chance to live in the neighborhood of his or her choice, free from unnecessary barriers,” Green told the Sun-Sentinel.

Whether the home is a commercial or residential use is a bone of contention. The federal Fair Housing Act protects addicts' right to housing, and the residents of this home would not be receiving routine medical treatment, but simply living a sober lifestyle as a phase of recovery. Delray Beach is currently being sued over refusing to allow a similar sober house in residential area mansion, and Boca Raton lost a legal bid to limit the location of sober homes.

On its website, TLC Recovery touts the sober house facility as the “most elite private addiction recovery home available” with amenities like a home theater, a chef’s kitchen, and seven luxury-style bedrooms.