Dallas homeowners upset over new neighbors

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by BYRON HARRIS / WFAA-TV

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wfaa.com

Posted on March 18, 2010 at 7:32 PM

DALLAS — Homeowners in the Forest Hills section of East Dallas are concerned about some new neighbors. When they discovered the new residents were a group of recovering alcoholics, some were outraged.

In her front yard with her five young children, Kristi Long says she's keeping an eye on the house across the street. A few weeks ago, it became a transitional home for men recovering from alcoholism.

Four men now live there with a supervised by a full-time advisor.

"It's very shocking in this type of neighborhood," Long said.

Forest Hills is an upscale community across from the Dallas Arboretum. The house on San Benito Way is valued on Dallas property tax rolls at $494,000. The owner lives in Tyler.

The Dallas City zoning department says the home is a single family residential dwelling, and since fewer than five unrelated people live there, it fits the definition of a single family residence.

The home is being rented by Life Force Dallas, which manages three transitional homes for drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Dallas.  The facilities are run by clinical psychologist Don Fielding, who says his clients have been sober for months.

There have been no complaints about the occupants. Few of the neighbors have even seen them.

Dallas City Council member Sheffie Kadane says he was initially concerned about the house, which is in his district, but now his opinion has changed.

"I'm not as concerned that they're a problem," Kadane said. "These folks are alcoholics that are committed to sobriety."

John Stuart Jr., whose parents live in the neighborhood, disagrees. "I'm thinking something's got to be done with the city ordinance," he said. "Something's got to change."

It's legal for home owners to rent their houses. City of Dallas ordinances also provide for the existence of transitional homes, where substance abusers can recover. 

The residents are scheduled to leave the Forest Hills house in a few weeks.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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