Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Council to Review Drug Treatment Permit

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Council to Review Drug Treatment Permit

Article excerpt

On May 6, the Oklahoma City Council is expected to make a decision regarding the proposed Southgate drug and alcohol treatment facility. The council may either revoke the permit issued for the project, or extend the deadline for the applicant to secure financing.

The dispute over the proposed facility has gone on for several months. In December 2002, the council voted to deny a rezoning request that would have allowed the Southgate Inn, located at 5245 S. I-35, to be converted into a treatment facility for women. The application was again brought before the council, however, and received conditional approval on Feb. 5.

The council approved the rezoning on the condition that management of the proposed facility prove to city staff within 90 days (or, by May 6) that adequate financing is in place for the project.

At Tuesday's council meeting, staff told the council that they had finally received financial information from the applicant the day before.

Ron Alexander, who manages a similar facility called Northgate at 3115 N. Lincoln Blvd., had told the council on Feb. 4 that he would manage the proposed Southgate facility through a nonprofit entity called Life Opportunities LLC. Alexander assured the council that Life Opportunities is not part of Sooner Holdings, a parent to the company which owns and operates the Northgate facility.

Sooner Holdings' most recent financial statement, which showed the company to be in debt, had caused concern among council members regarding the applicant's ability to make a success of the proposed Southgate facility. Alexander told the council that he was "going to bring $550,000 to the table," and was working with a bank on obtaining a loan.

"We have a commitment to do this loan subject to my getting some things in place," Alexander had told the council. "I have a letter from the bank that says subject to the following terms and conditions we will be able to do this loan." The bank required that Alexander obtain the necessary zoning for the site and develop a contract with the Department of Corrections, he said.

However, Alexander chose not to disclose the name of the bank he was working with, citing the personal criticisms he and his family have been subjected to by opponents of the project. …

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