Halfway House Plan Shot Down

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The Scranton Zoning Board unanimously denied a plan Wednesday night that would have rezoned 317 Linden Street, turning the residential apartment building into a work release residential treatment center, essentially a halfway house for 112 convicts.

“The large placement of convicted felons at the very center of the city of Scranton does nothing to let the city climb out of the distressed status. In fact, it’s my belief that the city, already stretched to the limit with fire and police protection, cannot afford to accommodate a further threat to public safety,” said Scranton business owner David Price.

Inside the crowded meeting room at Scranton City Hall, many voiced their concerns about the proposed center.

Although the center would not have to accept capital offenders, sex offenders or arsonists, folks at the meeting called it a terrible idea.

“A subculture will develop in the community due to the presence of these individuals. They will have girlfriends, wives, associates such as gang members visit them,” said Scranton neurologist Dr. Kenneth Lilik, who works near 317 Linden Street.

The developers of the plan promised safety would not be a concern, with a proposed 65 security cameras inside and outside of the building which they said would have constantly monitored the residents.

“You could actually make available the exterior cameras to the Scranton Police Department or any interested police department so they could monitor the exterior of the building and use it for their own uses for community policing,” said Mike Lydon, a Dunmore police officer who owns a security company.

For the business people and downtown residents at the meeting and the zoning board, that promise was not good enough.

“There seems to be very little security in the building. There are people in the building monitoring, but if something happens outside I assume your people in the building cannot leave,” said pediatric dentist, Dr. Ross Wezmar.

The Scranton Zoning Board’s decision can be appealed within 30 days.