Boynton Beach city officials voted the first of two required times Tuesday night to approve new rules to regulate group homes including sober homes.
The “foundation” of the rules is that the city is forcing sober homes to certify with a nonprofit that requires them to meet business and housing standards, said Mike Rumpf, the city’s director of planning and zoning. That nonprofit is the Boca Raton-based Florida Association of Recovery Residences, which regulates homes under a voluntary program for the state.
Another rule staff proposed is that the group homes have to be at least 300 feet away from another group home instead of 1,000 feet. That’s a distance of about four homes. But some commissioners asked for that minimum to be higher, making the homes more spread out. Rumpf plans to research that and will come back with a recommendation in time for the second vote, scheduled for July 18.
Rumpf said existing sober homes will have to follow the certification rule. As far as the distance rule, the homes will be grandfathered in if they don’t meet that.
“These are new regulations, venturing in an area that has been uncharted if you will. We’ll be monitoring them over time,” Rumpf said.
Boynton and Delray Beach are the first cities in the state to propose forcing sober homes to tighten standards and stop settling in clusters. Delray also plans to force the homes to voluntarily certify with the nonprofit or prove they meet those standards without certification. And, Delray plans to limit the number of homes allowed to open in a given area.
In Boynton, the first vote on the regulations came less than one month after the city’s temporary ban on applications for group homes expired. The city passed the moratorium to draft these new regulations.
Check back for more information Wednesday.