OPERATION PAR’s Federal NIMBY Suit Big Success

Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire
10/10/2012 – ATIN – In an indication of the effectiveness of a string of federal rulings slapping down local NIMBY aggression against addiction treatment drug rehab alcohol rehab expansion, officials in Florida’s Hernando County have caved as it became Charity Centerincreasingly obvious a federal anti-discrimination lawsuit filed by Tampa-based OPERATION PAR held all the cards. OPERATION PAR had gotten all the zoning permits needed for a critical local methadone clinic when, after a stigma-filled bigoted two-hour community meeting, the full county commission unanimously threw out the previously granted approvals. OPERATION PAR already operates four other methadone clinics to the highest standards, and now 100 county residents will longer have to travel long distances to get their daily dose.

Million Dollar Man

The man that, to a large extent, OPERATION PAR has to thank for the relatively quick settlement and reinstatement of the zoning approval is Steve Manko, whose Boca House sober living operation, with an astounding 50 or so houses scattered around super upscale Boca Raton, FL, is arguably the nation’s most successful for-profit halfway house enterprise. Back in 2006, Manko’s rapid expansion, and no doubt his in-your-face New York-style aggressive attitude as well, severely rankled local residents and officials, who teamed to write a set of highly restrictive local ordinances aimed at cutting sober living house operation and expansion off at the knees. Risking over $1M in legal fees, 

Boca House founder Steve Manko, left, with his long time former lieutenant Lou Agudo
paid mainly to attorney Jim Green out of West Palm Beach, Manko and Green together successfully argued the ordinances violated federal anti-discrimination statutes which at that time had yet to be to any large extent specifically court tested when it came to the addictions space. Manko won resoundingly and was awarded legal fees.

Ocean Side NIMBY Barrier

Since then, attorney Green has had a busy practice as the go-to NIMBY guy in Florida. Caron threw big bucks at him for successfully beating back opposition to its Ocean Drive, which blazed trails this year as the first Florida Model center to stare down big wealthy ocean side mansion dwellers, successfully making the Florida Model a potential competitor to Malibu. And we at Treatment Magazine know other South Florida players who have also paid Green’s big retainers this year. Hopefully Hernando County’s relatively quick cave in will send a signal to other municipalities when they are pressured by residents to blatantly break the law, and maybe county commissions and other boards will increasingly refuse to overturn perfectly valid zoning approvals even in the face of big community  pressure. Maybe that’ll save other addictions players like OPERATION PAR – a REAL non-profit charity – big legal fees they can ill afford – though fees are often awarded when NIMBY cases are thrown out, as in the case of Florida House earlier this year. And hopefully the big bucks business of NIMBY lawyers like Jim Green – no doubt a pioneering member of the bar who has served his treatment industry clients well – will be begin to wind down as it sinks in at local councils nationwide that resistance to perfectly legal treatment expansions is increasingly moot.

read our key early NIMBY report ‘HALFWAY HOUSE BATTLE’