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Special Ordinance 42

Update: SO 42 was approved!

Many thanks to everyone who voiced their support for Next Step via email, online and in person! It made all the difference in securing the approval from City Council for Special Ordinance 42.

The Council voted 6-2 to approve our addition for much needed office space. We sincerely thank Councilpersons Tammy LeDune Boland, Curtis DeBaun, Neil Garrison, Earl Elliott, Cheryl Loudermilk and Amy Auler for their vote and their support.

If you would like to thank these council members as well for taking the time to read your emails and carefully considering the facts of this matter, we have listed their email addresses below. 

Thank you! 

City Council Members Email and Phone Numbers

  • Curtis DeBaun

  • Cheryl Loudermilk

  • Neil Garrison

  • Earl Elliot

  • Tammy Boland

  • Amy Auler

The Facts

Next Step expansion plans

Who is Next Step and why do they need to build an addition to their building?

Next Step is a faith-based non-profit organization providing housing and services to those who are serious about recovery from drugs and alcohol. In 2011, Next Step purchased the historic Washington Ave. Presbyterian Church. The property was rezoned as a Planned Development in 2012 to be used as a “women’s recovery center” allowing 20 women to reside on the premises.  Next Step moved women into the church in March, 2012 and has been operating there ever since. Next Step serves over 45 clients and has 15 staff members (8 of whom are certified peer coaches that graduated from the Next Step program and have years of recovery experience now).  We provide housing, meals, peer coaching, mental health therapy, case management and education. Next Step IS NOT a short-term medical treatment facility, but instead is a recovery community organization providing housing, meals and all the support necessary to assist people to get into and stay in long-term recovery. By partnering with other medical service providers, such as the hospitals and community health centers, as well as the criminal justice providers, Next Step has earned a reputation as an effective recovery services organization, which has resulted in an increased demand for Next Step services.  The current national Opioid epidemic has also impacted the increased need for recovery services as people are dying from overdose deaths at record numbers every year. Next Step receives an average of 25 applications each month and can only accept 3-5.  This led to the decision to add-on to the church building since the area that is used for housing women has been converted back to office use, leaving only one large room for housing. Therefore, we filed for another Planned Development request that mirrored the original request from 2012 (recovery center allowing 20 women to reside).

Due to an error (just discovered) in that special zoning ordinance from 2012 that identified the zoning to apply to the correct parcel number for the church, but gave the wrong legal description, Next Step decided to rezone both the church lot AND the vacant lot adjoining the church in order to accommodate the need for more housing and services.  Due to the need to increase services in order to provide housing for pregnant women, they proposed an addition on their vacant lot in order to accommodate housing and additional office space. The zoning petition asked for both the lots owned by Next Step to be zoned identically, as a recovery center allowing all the programs found in a recovery center and to house the same number of women (20) as allowed in the 2012 zoning.

Recently, a generous donor purchased and donated a condemned house across the street that can now be used for the residential needs.  However, that does not address the need for correcting the mistake in the original zoning ordinance nor the need for additional meeting and office space.  Therefore, Next Step still needs to build on their lot in order to accommodate the need for offices and conference rooms. This building is necessary for Next Step to continue to offer the quality services that have made it so successful in restoring people back to productive lives in the community.

Impact on the Neighborhood

Does Next Step’s presence in the Farrington’s Grove neighborhood hurt property values or otherwise negatively impact the  residential neighborhood?

When Next Step purchased the historic church in 2011 (built in 1892 and the last building from the Coats Women’s College) it had decades of deferred maintenance. The walls were collapsing, there were dozens of leaks in the roof and bricks were falling from the bell tower. Next Step received a grant award from the City of Terre Haute in 2018 of $300,000 and invested another $250,000 in donor funds in order to put on a new roof and repair all the masonry, as well as upgrade the HVAC system, build a commercial kitchen and upgrade all flooring. If Next Step had not purchased and restored the church building, the city would be facing the loss of yet another historic landmark. That would have had a negative impact on the Farrington’s Grove neighborhood. Instead, there is now a restored church with all the 27 original stained-glass windows, vaulted ceiling and pipes from the original pipe organ.

In addition to the historic church, Next Step was also given 3 homes in the neighborhood and invested over $50,000 to improve the homes so that they reflected their historic architecture, including refinishing the original hardwood floors, restoring original woodwork, painting and installing new carpet, drapes and fixtures matching the turn of the century look.

Lastly, a generous donor purchased a 4 unit building that had been left vacant and allowed to deteriorate for 10 years. This building was completely restored and donated to Next Step, resulting in the transformation of a neighborhood eye sore into a beautiful multi-family structure that houses several mothers who graduated from the Next Step program and have been reunited with their children.

Through a partnership with a corporate benefactor, over 5,600 volunteer hours have been spent on Next Step properties providing landscaping and maintenance efforts to assure that all Next Step properties are beautifully maintained thereby increasing the value of the surrounding properties.

All residents that live on Next Step properties are supervised closely, required to adhere to a 9 PM curfew, are subject to random drug screens and video monitoring at all times. Next Step has a zero- tolerance policy for any drug or alcohol use and residents who fail a drug screen or breathalyzer are immediately discharged to more suitable treatment facilities.  In the 10 years of operation, Next Step has never had anyone arrested on any of their properties or had any complaints filed.

The Need for Recovery Services and the Importance of Farrington’s Grove Location

Why does Next Step need to be located in Farrington’s Grove?  Why can’t they just move somewhere outside the city or in another part of the city that is not a historic district?

All Next Step residents are required to get a job and be employed.  Given the fact that many of the people with substance use disorder may have lost everything due to their addiction, many of the people we serve do not have a vehicle and need to utilize public transportation. Farrington’s Grove has three major bus lines going right through it.  It is also located within walking or biking distance to many employers, such as the restaurants and retail shops located on 3rd street.  It is also walking distance to the courthouse, which is important to those residents involved with the criminal justice system. Lastly, since the majority of housing in Farrington’s Grove is rental housing, there are many affordable options for people looking to stay close to the services offered at Next Step once they graduate from the program. There are not many other neighborhoods that can offer all those advantages to someone looking to rebuild their life.

The reason Next Step is effective is due to our “community” approach.  As all the research from SAMHSA has shown, the most important factors in long-term recovery from substance use disorder are home, health, purpose and community.  The church building acts as a “hub” for the residents that live in nearby properties and it provides a much-needed sense of support, connection and community that is vitally important to maintaining long term recovery.  We currently serve 45 residents and have a staff of 15.  That is a 3-1 ratio.  Anyone in education knows that the lower the teacher-student ratio, the better the results. Next Step has that same approach to helping our residents, who are well-supervised and provided with the many varied services required to recover from this complex disorder.

Next Step is proud to be a member of the Farrington’s Grove neighborhood and invests a lot of time and energy to assure that our presence adds value to a mixed-use neighborhood.

The Community and State Support for Next Step

Does Next Step have a good history of providing these types of services?

The excellence of the Next Step organization has been acknowledged by our local community partners and at the State level. The Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis featured Next Step as a model recovery community organization in their 2019 “Fix It” exhibition about how communities are addressing the opioid epidemic.  Next Step was the FIRST certified RCO (Recovery Community Organization) in the entire state of Indiana. In addition, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction awarded Next Step a grant to open a Peer Resource Center in 2019. There were 20 communities that applied for that grant and the state selected Next Step due to our proven track record in providing peer services. Then in 2020 during the Covid lock down, DMHA select FIVE organizations in the entire state to act as Regional Recovery Hubs and Next Step was one of those 5 and has excelled in serving 18 counties with peer support via online services and face to face services since 2020.

Next Step has the support of law enforcement, health providers and local community agencies. Here is what others in our community say about Next Step:

Sherriff Plasse:
“Most of the inmates in my jail are here in some way, shape or form due to illicit drugs and addiction.  While our community does many things to help those battling addictions, we need to do more before they end up here. I ask that you approve this request for rezoning”

Richard Payonk, Executive Director, United Way:
“In each and every community conversation we have held, the issue of substance use disorder made its way to the forefront.  The common themes of lack of available housing and treatment options have been a major problem we have focused on alleviating. Next Step is utilizing innovative approaches to solving problems that have long plagued our community”

J. Warren, CEO, Valley Professionals Community Health Center TJ:
“The lack of available resources in the community has created waitlists for those seeking services, delaying treatment and the ability to begin steps to recovery. Next Step and VPCHC have a great collaborative partnership to serve those battling addiction”

Hicham Rahmouni, Executive Director:
“I am thankful for the efforts Next Step has made to diligently provide housing and appropriate treatment options, but also recognize the significant remaining need for transitional housing benefiting pregnant and parenting women with infants”

Rezoning the vacant lot

Why is rezoning required for Next Step to build an addition to the church?

In 2012, both Area Planning and the City Council unanimously voted in favor of rezoning the church as a “women’s recovery center” allowing 20 women to reside in the church. There was no opposition to this request and we have used the property as a recovery center for 10 years.  For the first 6 years, we have had as many as 20 women living in the church annex without any complaints. We were informed by Area Planning at the Dec. 1 meeting that the ordinance from 2012 lists the parcel number of our church building (Lot 1) along with the legal description of the vacant lot (Lot 2), so that mistake has been used against us to accuse us of operating in violation of our zoning. The City Council was very clear that the request was for the use of church building and the execution of the ordinance was just a clerical error combining the parcel for lot 1 with the description of lot 2. 

Due to the fact that we have seen a huge increase in demand for our services, we are in need of more space. We have been blessed with the donation of a residential property across the street that can now be used to house the 20 women we originally requested to house in the church building or addition. However, we are still in need of the rezoning in order to correct the error in the original PD ordinance for the church and to build an addition to the church on our vacant lot. We have mental health counselors that are meeting with people in hallways and supply rooms because we do not have enough space.  We can legally build a duplex on that lot that could take up all but 6 feet of the lot, but our proposed building would actually use less space than a duplex, will leave 60% green space and will be designed to fit into the existing church and will be shielded from the street view by trees and a fence.

Special Ordinance 42 requests that both lots be re-zoned from a residential lot for two families (R-2) to a Planned Development in a residential multi-family area.  Both the church and the land adjacent to the church qualify for this new zoning because a) there is a hardship due to the unusual nature of the property and because b) the lot is located in a deteriorating neighborhood. In the nomination form to become designated as an historic district in 1984, the applicant states that “from 1950 to 1984, over 40 homes were condemned and demolished in the district.”  The City of Terre Haute reports that over the past 5 years, they have condemned 51 properties in the Farrington’s Grove neighborhood and have demolished dozens of those and are planning to demolish dozens more.  So, based on that data alone, the neighborhood continues to decline and Next Step meets the criteria to claim a hardship. In addition, these 2 lots are surrounded by multi-family and commercial lots, not single-family dwellings. In immediate proximity to the church are a triplex directly next to the vacant lot, a mosque one block away, a residential treatment center allowing 38 residents 2 blocks to the north, an adolescent group home 50 feet away, a large abandoned home directly across the street, an old medical office building two blocks north, multiple fraternities and student housing facilities on the same block and the Anthony Square retirement village also just a block away on the same street.   The church and addition would not be out of place in such a mixed-use neighborhood.

Messages of Neighborhood Support

Does everyone in the neighborhood oppose this rezoning request?

The group that opposes this rezoning (Farrington Grove Historical District board) is made up of 7 members of the board and just a handful of member households. This is not a formal neighborhood association nor are there any covenants, conditions or restrictions involved in residing in this neighborhood.

Next Step has support from both members of the FGHD and the neighbors living closest to the facility who have had first hand experience of the organization and the residents that live in the area.  Here are what they say about Next Step being in their neighborhood:

  • “Just over ten years ago, Next Step moved into my neighborhood. Next Step’s flagship property at 619 Washington Ave. has undergone significant renovations of which everyone is well-pleased. When appropriate opportunities became available. Next Step has acquired additional properties within my neighborhood. These properties have been beautified, enviably beautified, for client housing. I am confident the site design for this addition would be beautiful and its executed program would be successful. I strongly encourage you to approve this rezoning request.”

    -Colleen Chestnut, 1304 South 6th Street

  • “I am a resident in the Farrington Grove Historical District, and I want our neighborhood be a place where we serve others. Next Step has modeled neighborhood support, and they should be able to expand that reach to others – particularly the most vulnerable among us.”

    -Katherine Lugar, 1504 S Center St

  • “I owned a home at 1408 S Center Street from 1985 to 2020. I watched as the Next Step group began acquiring properties around me, including the two houses directly across the street from me and the houses on either side of me. Those houses had long been a source of frustration for my family, as they were not well taken care of and being rented to college students, who partied often and loudly. All that changed when Next Step came along. The homes were renovated, the residents were friendly and appreciative and they were well supervised. They were better neighbors than I had in the entire 35 years I lived there.  When it came time to sell my home, I felt Next Step would be the best owner. I felt it was an excellent choice for me, my neighborhood and the worthwhile Next Step program. I remain very happy with my decision”.

    -Mark Wright, 1408 S Center

  • “I owned a property at 1400 S Center St. I considered selling it, but in 2018 I felt I could make a greater impact if I donated it to Next Step. I had watched them make a positive impact to the neighborhood through renovation and property improvements. I am writing in support of their desire to expand their services by building an addition on their vacant residential multi-family lot.”

     -Tim Ramseier, 1400 S Center St

  • “I lived in the Farrington’s Grove neighborhood for 10 years. I watched as Next Step acquired homes that were in disrepair and made a significant positive impact to our neighborhood through their renovation and property maintenance efforts.  When it came time for me to sell my home/property, I felt that contributing to the mission at Next Step would be the best way to make a contribution to my community so I donated the equity in my home to this worthy organization. I support their efforts to rezone their lot in order to provide more housing.”

    -Jason Wallace, 506 Willow St

  • “As a neighbor of Next Step, I have watched them seek to improve the community. They drastically improve the properties they own, helping the value of my own and my neighbors’ property to increase. With so many landlords renting and doing nothing to keep up their Farrington Grove property, that is the problem, not Next Step.”

    -Robyn Lugar, S Center Street

  • “I am in favor of the rezoning because as I see it the efforts that have come because of Next Step in the neighborhood have only improved the structures and the neighborhood. I am a structural engineer so I can see the difference between real repairs (i.e., structural repairs to a sagging structure) and cosmetic or temporary improvements (i.e., just paint over a sagging porch beam). Next Step’s efforts are real and lasting repairs and improvements. I believe their efforts are inspiring other people (both landlords and homeowners) to improve their properties. These inspired improvements are evident on my block and the surrounding blocks. That raises all property values. I think we should not just watch what more they will do, but support their efforts by supporting the re-zoning. This change is a good one.

    -Betsy Wilkinson, PE, SE (I live on the same block as Next Step)

  • “I am a resident of Farrington’s Grove and I support this rezoning because Next Step has improved the property across the street from me and I have seen how hard they work to beautify this neighborhood.”

    -Beth Littlejohn, 1409 S Center St

  • “I am a resident of Farrington’s Grove and I support Next Step building a new building because I have seen this ministry change the entire outlook of my block with watching the restoration of the houses they own. They deserve the support of our City Council and Area Planning.”

    -Gwendolyn Robins, 1415 S Center St

  • “I live at 1405 S Center St in Farrington’s Grove in one of the apartment’s provided to me and my children by Next Step. I have been a part of this neighborhood for several years now and I have watched as Next Step has expanded to allow me and my children to have safe and affordable housing. Please support their desire to give more women like me a chance at a stable life”.

    Dakota Herring, 1405 S Center St.

  • “I am an ISU graduate student and I rent an apartment In Farrington’s Grove.  I support the rezoning efforts of Next Step because living north of their properties I can honestly say that I feel safer running near the Next Step properties than near the student houses and have witnessed first-hand the improvements their homes have made to this community. Since they are zoned for residential on their vacant lot, I do not see why their request would not be acceptable. Please allow them to continue to beautify our neighborhood. ”  

    – Kara Ooms, 405 S 6th Street.

Recovery Center and Recovery Café

Does the use of the church sanctuary as a Recovery Café violate zoning?

Special Ordinance 42 requests use of our property as a “recovery center”. This is the same request that was unanimously approved in 2012. In the past 10 years, we have used our recovery center to host many types of recovery programs from education, groups, peer coaching AA/NA meetings and a meeting space where we offered coffee and cereal. We will continue to use the center for all of the same purposes.

Our newest use of our “recovery center” zoning is to offer a program based on a nationwide model called “recovery café” that was named that by the original program in Seattle. As part of the network, we must name our program “Recovery Café Terre Haute”. The name is misleading as it IS NOT a restaurant or a commercial business. It is a recovery program (similar to AA) where people in recovery can meet, have a meal and join a “Recovery Circle” meeting or a “School of Recovery” class in order to gain support in their recovery journey.

It is a membership-based program. It will be operating two days a week to start (Tuesdays and Fridays) from 11 AM to 3 PM with coffee, drinks and lunch provided. There is no charge for any of the services provided at the Recovery Café as it is a grant funded program. Having social support is a very important part of a successful recovery journey and we are blessed to have the perfect space to utilize in this capacity with our 5,000 sq foot sanctuary.

The Recovery Café Indy also operates out of a church, as do many of the Recovery Cafes throughout the nation. The purpose of this re-zoning request is to assure that we are even more specific about the exact use of our property to avoid any confusion in the future or any allegations that we operate outside of our zoning. Our plan is to use the church as we have always used it; for offices, meeting spaces, meals, recovery center events, and recovery support services, which includes recovery café activities.