PORTLAND — City officials will investigate a residence on Columbia Road whose tenants have spurred complaints to determine whether a home for recovering alcoholics is permitted in the residential zone.

The use of the home was revealed by its owner’s representatives Monday night during a meeting arranged by City Councilor Ed Suslovic.

Suslovic said he intends to have the city determine whether a halfway house is permitted, and form a Neighborhood Watch team to improve communication between the home’s owner, police and Rosemont residents.

“We’ve got an investigation that the city needs to do. Is this a legally permitted use of the property?” Suslovic asked as he addressed the audience of more than 60 people.

Suslovic called the meeting because, during his campaign this year for the District 3 council seat, he kept hearing complaints from residents about public urination, drinking, illegal parking and noise at 33-35 Columbia Road that disrupted the neighborhood.

Suslovic invited neighbors, members of the Portland Police Department and the property’s owners to Monday’s meeting.

Mike Vaillancourt, the attorney who represents the owner, Adam Nice, and the building’s new property manager, Dan Bell of Sullivan Properties, both spoke at the meeting.

“Adam takes these concerns very seriously. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here tonight,” Vaillancourt said.

Bell, who has been managing the property since October, said the house is being used as a home for recovering alcoholics, and a staff member is on duty 24 hours a day.

“It’s being operated as a sober house,” he said. “The owner has opened it up to people who are trying to get sober.”

Vaillancourt said 13 people are living in the house.

Earl Allen, who lives near the home, spoke briefly at the meeting. In a previous interview, Allen, who is in his 70s, said a rock has been thrown through his front door, he has been threatened and he has seen drug transactions. Allen said he has lodged numerous complaints with police.

He also said the current residents have been “mild” compared with tenants in the past.

Michelle Lauture, community services coordinator for the city police, said the house has generated 28 calls for service in 2010. Only five were substantiated as legitimate; she said most of the complaints came from one area resident.

“If you are experiencing problems with this house, please don’t suffer in silence,” Suslovic said. “If there is a problem in a neighborhood, everyone has to call.”

City officials said they plan to inspect the property Thursday to get a better idea of how it is being used.

Bell urged neighbors to call him at 774-1400 if the home’s residents are disturbing their peace.

“My goal is to run a good quality property with good quality people,” Bell said. “I would welcome the calls.”

Meanwhile, Suslovic and Tim Farris, the senior lead police officer for the neighborhood, said they will form a Neighborhood Watch team that will try to improve communication between the owners of the home and area residents.

The team will meet in January at the St. Ansgar Lutheran Church on Woodford Street.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be reached at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]