Sober Living zoning hearing set

Published 12:49 am Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Florala’s nine-member Zoning Board will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. this Thursday to decide whether property at 582 Fifth St. will be rezoned to allow for multi-family residential housing.

The property in question, known locally as the Gitenstein estate, is destined to become a Sober Living home for men if the zoning change is approved. Already, the 5,000 square foot residence has been refurbished to accommodate up to 15 men.

Gabriela Engels of Iconsulting, Inc. plans the sober living facility as part of her development of a drug and alcohol recovery facility with the former Florala Memorial Hospital as its center. The former hospital will be renovated and used for detox and inpatient care, which should open in May.

The former Gitenstein home will be used for men who don’t need hospitalization, but aren’t quite ready to live totally independently. The idea, she said, is for men in recovery to find strength and comradeship from others in similar situations.

A similar sober living home for women is part of her long-term plan for Florala. She plans to employ a live-in director for each home.

Those who live in the transitional homes will have strict living requirements, Engels said. In addition to regular drug testing, they will be required to work. To facilitate that requirement, she said, she will open one or two more downtown businesses.

Meanwhile, she also is working to reopen the outpatient clinic adjacent to the hospital, and expects it to be open in March.

The Zoning Board will make a recommendation to the city council, which is expected to hold its own hearing on Mon., March 24, at 6 p.m.