A group seeking to turn a partially built mansion on Winkler Road, south Fort Myers, into a drug treatment center is suing Lee County in federal court, claiming Lee County commissioners violated the Disabled Americans Act when they launched the plan 2015 declined.
Lawyers for the Kimberly ReGenesis & Mouracade Regenerative Medicine Center argue that commissioners illegally discriminated against a nationwide protected group – namely those suffering from addiction – when they unanimously overruled the planning staff and refused to use the 5 acre property for them Reclassify usage.
First story: Turn wrecks into rebuilt lives
And: Lee County Rejects Winkler Road Rehabilitation Center
“There was ample competent evidence of the property being used as a decontamination facility and no competent or substantive evidence of its refusal,” the lawsuit said.
Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, who represents the area in which the property is located, did not respond to an interview request on Monday to speak about this case.
District spokeswoman Betsy Clayton released a written statement Monday afternoon entitled, “The complaint was served in the district this morning, and the district attorney is currently examining plaintiffs’ claim. We look forward to further evaluating and advocating the interests of Lee County. “
The center’s plans are to accommodate 12 to 14 adults undergoing medically supervised drug and alcohol detoxification and up to 60 people undergoing inpatient drug treatment and counseling.
Patients convicted of treatment by the court would not be admitted, said the center’s founder, Thomas Mouracade.
A number of neighboring property owners have objected to the plan, arguing that a drug treatment center would ruin the character of the area, lower property values and attract crime.
The location is along the Winkler route between College Parkway and Cypress Lake Drive. The area is highly frequented and is home to a mix of residential, medical and commercial businesses.
Buildings on the property, which include a partially built two-story main house, two-story guest house, and large garage, would provide approximately 24,000 square feet of floor space.
When Mouracade bought the property in 2015 for more than $ 1.15 million, the property had been abandoned by its previous owners and was in disrepair.
Today, the property at 6401 Winkler Road is home to nine people recovering from substance use disorders and offers treatment services elsewhere. They are receiving drug detox treatment off-site, he said.
The main house, which includes an entrance with 42-foot ceilings, is still under construction.
“Day after day we have been restoring this property and using it to the best of our ability. We want to continue,” said Mouracade. “That is the same type of work that is done with the person who is seeking treatment.”
Follow this reporter on Twitter: @FrankGluck
More:Fort Myers wife hopes an army of apple tattoo wearers will equalize awareness of opioid addiction
Report:Fentanyl outperforms other opioids in overdose deaths throughout Southwest Florida
And:New data reveals the source of Florida’s prescription pain relievers