No truth to recovery center rumor at camp

Concern for their safety and well-being, as well as campers’ safety, brought more than 40 people to a meeting at the Kingswood clubhouse Monday, June 20, to hear about a proposed 200-bed recovery program through Light and Life Church at Emmanuel Pines Camp out Iron Springs Road.

It seems there is no plan after all, but residents heard from several guests about recovery homes. Arizona State Rep. Noel Campbell and Mary Beth Hrin spoke about House Bill 2107 signed into law by the governor, Prescott Mayor Harry Oberg talked about the city’s desire to require business licenses, and Chris Jensen warned about first responder access along Spence Springs Road to the camp.

No one from Emmanuel Pines Camp or Light and Life Church was present. Pastor Bob Terrell of Light and Life Free Methodist Church in Prescott said in a phone call Tuesday, June 21, that no one notified him of the meeting. He said reports have been circulating since earlier in the year about how the camp had plans to convert to a recovery center.

“These are just rumors. We’ll continue to be good neighbors,” Terrell said. He said someone confused another Light and Life entity with Emmanuel Pines and posted the recovery center plans on the wrong website. Because of the false information, the church canceled the small recovery center it once operated.

Joe Collings, who organized the meeting, said this week he wanted the speakers to educate residents on the recover home bill; he didn’t want it to become political. He wanted Campell to explain the bill, and Mayor Oberg to talk about Prescott’s plans to require business licenses. Hrin, who worked closely with Campbell on the bill, is a candidate for Dist. 1 supervisor (incumbent Rowle Simmons’ district).

“The big key in all of this is the city and the county need to be working together to draft the ordinance on the structured sober living homes. There was no need to ask Pastor Bob because we didn’t really talk about Emanuel Pines,” Collings said.

Campbell described the recovery home bill he and Hrin worked on, a permissive law that goes into effect Aug. 6 and allows municipalities to “do something or nothing.” He acknowledged some good recovery homes exist in Prescott, but called the recovery industry powerful and money-driven. Campbell said the county offered no support for the bill.

Mayor Oberg listed four things he wants to see happen with recovery homes within city limits: required training for recovery house managers, 24-hour per day supervision, increased code enforcement, and an exit program for each home. He also wants to require a business license for recovery homes.

Jensen started “Prescott Neighbors for Safety” to spearhead his concerns about Spence Springs Road, a private 16-foot-wide road that connects Emmanuel Pines Campground and private residences to Iron Springs Road. It is the only access road to the campground. The 40-acre camp falls under the jurisdiction of Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, which requires 20-foot wide roads for adequate access, he added.

“Imagine campers and residents trying to escape in vehicles, and emergency trucks trying to get in,” he said, adding his concern over a potential 200 chain smokers living on site.

In the audience was Yavapai County Director of Development Services Steve Mauk who said the county sent a letter to the owner explaining that any expansion or change in use is subject to the fire code. Mauk said the camp would need to upgrade its access roads and install a sprinkler system. The county has specific zoning for campgrounds, but he is not convinced a rehabilitation facility fits under the allowable criteria.

“It’s never been in the works,” Terrell reiterated in his phone call. “I think Emmanuel Pines needs to be protected here.”

Campbell said he represents the residents who expressed their concerns about a large recovery center.

“The last thing I want to see is them operating out there and we find out after the fact,” he said.