Wellness center is approved

Supervisors grant new use to Malibu Dude Ranch if certain conditions are met

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  • Rodeos will continue at the Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford (Photo by George Leroy Hunter)

By Anya Tikka

— Westfall Township Supervisors granted the Malibu Dude Ranch conditional use as a wellness center after a publilc hearing earlier this month.

No more comments were taken from the public, and fewer people attended than did the previous hearing, when a room-full of residents spoke up both for and against the resort's proposed new use.

Many expressed concerns about their safety on the only road leading to the center, Foster Hill Road, especially if people formerly addicted to drugs — who will be staying at the center — decided to leave.

Supervisors Jerry Dotey, Robert Bostinto and Lester Buchanan granted the conditional use, basing it on similar conditional uses allowed in the district and other factors. The full text of the decision is available on request from the Westfall Township offices.

Among their reasons for granting approval, the supervisors noted that there were no new buildings or property extensions in the plans, and that all the new inhabitants, once the center becomes operational, would be under strict supervision, including round-the-clock wearing of electronic bracelets, monitored by a hired bonded security company. Cameras will also be used, with the requirement to keep records for six months.

Additionally, if any resident was found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol apart from medically prescribed ones, they would immediately be required to leave, and would be escorted out throughout the process, posing no safety concern for the road residents. In addition, no overnight visitors will be allowed under any circumstances.

The center will allow 100 residents in the 60 existing rooms, all over age 18 and not suffering from mental illness. No other visitors will be admitted at the center, except during the summer season’s rodeos. The residents will stay in the facility from 21 days to nine months.

Another question on many residents’ minds was if this was some kind of criminal or half-way house, where people would be sent as part of legal proceedings. The decision states that those taking part will do so on their own volition, and have to be certified drug-free only after completing a drug treatment programs elsewhere. The facility will not be a detox treatment center, it states.

ConditionsOther provisions include:

No access to firearms will be allowed. Employees will have to submit to a criminal history and abuse background check. The residents will also be certified as not being sexual offenders or diagnosed with a sexual disorder.

All vendors will also have to be vetted, so that no alcohol or drugs will enter premises.

A safety plan must be filed with the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department.

All doctors and therapists will have to be certified in their specialty.

Despite concerns about traffic expressed by the public earlier, the supervisors found traffic would actually decrease, since no daily visitors would use the road anymore. The supervisors did not address daily transportation by staff or noise.

They also didn’t address concerns expressed about gun shots from the rifle range on the premises, and how they will affect wellness center patients who suffer from PTSD. Other previously expressed concerns that didn't come up include whether the project would affect property values in the neighborhood, who will pay for the therapy treatment, insurance, medical personnel on the premises, and the location of all the proposed outdoor wilderness activities planned at the center.

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