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Opponents of revised rules for halfway houses call for extension of moratorium on new applications
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Opponents of revised rules for halfway houses call for extension of moratorium on new applications

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Proposed halfway house zones

Opponents of proposed rules to govern transitional living facilities in Lincoln called on the City Council to extend its moratorium on new expanded halfway houses beyond Nov. 16.

More than a dozen people concerned about the rules, which essentially make it easier to open a transitional living facility, said the proposed ordinance lacks the necessary controls to assure the safety of the residents and neighborhood.

Colonial Hills neighborhood resident Michael Jank told council members they should reject the proposed rules and redraft the ordinance because he worries halfway house residents may not successfully transition if their supervision is lax.

"We only have one chance to do this right," Jank said.

Since the first application to expand a halfway house beyond three residents was filed earlier this year, neighbors have expressed concern about the lack of government oversight for the facilities, which receive state reimbursement for housing people who need a sober place to stay after completing their prison sentence.

The Nebraska State Probation doesn't inspect or license the facilities, but requires them to keep an accounting of their residents to receive reimbursement.

Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department staff said they have designed the regulations to control what the city can control — land use — not the inner workings of a halfway house.

The proposed rules cap capacity of the homes based on their zoning, and planners say they strive to create uniform rules. 

In August, the council approved its first-ever alternative-to-imprisonment facility special permit with several conditions and implemented a moratorium on new applications for them while the Planning Department drafted regulations. 

Planning commissioners in late September voted 6-0 in favor of the rules, which make it easier to open the facilities.

The council took no action on the proposal and will vote on the regulations next week.

Revised rules for halfway houses headed to Lincoln City Council
Council delays vote on halfway house expansion after neighbors' testimony
Lincoln council approves first licensed halfway house with conditions

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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Local government reporter

Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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