GORHAM — The Town Council in a special meeting next week could enact a 180-day moratorium on boarding houses.
A public hearing and potential moratorium action is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at the municipal center, 75 South St.
The meeting follows calls at a June 4 Town Council meeting for a moratorium on sober houses. The outcry came after plans for Courage House, a former fraternity house converted to a re-entry, sober living experience for up to 15 men, former prisoners on probation, became known in town.
Rob Korobkin of Portland, owner of Maine Reentry Services, leases the property and will operate Courage House at 24 School St. Sean Crothers, business development director for Evergreen Recovery Healthcare in Manchester, will provide treatment and counseling.
“The moratorium on the agenda is for boarding houses only,” Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said in an email.
The building at 24 School St. is considered a boarding house, Town Council Vice Chairwoman Suzanne Phillips said Tuesday.
However, a letter from the town’s attorney appears to exclude Courage House from a moratorium.
Mark Bower of the Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry law firm wrote to Paraschak and Town Planner Tom Poirier that a moratorium would not govern “any facility providing housing for a population that is defined as handicapped under the Fair Housing Act or disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Under state and federal laws, those recovering from substance use disorders are considered disabled or handicapped.
Al Garcia of Gorham, program director at Courage House, plans on attending Tuesday’s meeting. “I believe any moratorium would be for future programs. We are planning on moving ahead with first guy moving in maybe this weekend,” Garcia said.
Supporters include a student, Kate Tugman, who spoke at a May 29 community meeting about Courage House.
“Courage House is a good opportunity for them to get a second chance,” the high school junior said in an interview. “They’ll be good citizens. I don’t think they should be defined by their mistakes.”
Robert Lowell can be reached at 780-9089 or email [email protected]
Courage House, a re-entry home at 24 School St. in Gorham, plans to receive its first of up to 15 former prisoners on probation this weekend.