SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP/DELAWARE WATER GAP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — One click into the Water Gap Wellness Inn’s website and you read ‘Pennsylvania Detox or Rehab? Call a certain number.
A number of issues surrounding this site and the location depicted have a community upset.
“We’ve had people running up and down the fairway in the back screaming obscenities, saying strange, uncomfortable things. We can’t spend time, outside, on our property because I have to worry about what’s happening on the other side of the fence,” Nefertiti Campbell said.
Since March of this year, the old Water Gap Country Club has been up and running as the Water Gap Wellness Inn. The Smithfield Township property sits on the border of the Delaware Water Gap surrounded by low density residence zone.
Right now, there is litigation to rezone the property, so the inn can become a residential drug and rehab facility. However, neighbors have concerns about their families’ safety because of who stays at the inn.
“They come racing down the road on the golf carts. They’re doing doughnuts in the back. They come speeding past. They stop and they call to my three-year-old all the time which I find very inappropriate because she’s three,” Nicole Gibbons said.
Local residents have been fighting a rezoning and complaining about increased traffic and disturbances in their quiet neighborhoods. Many like Denny Douds have lived in either Smithfield Township or Delaware Water Gap for years and are infuriated.
“I don’t think anybody here is against drug rehab center. But we’re all of the people who bought property. One of the first things you do is you go out and you look for a house. This place is owned. This is a zoning issue,” Douds said.
Joseph Schlim and his partners run both the Water Gap Wellness Inn and the nearby Water Gap Wellness Center, a licensed treatment center for addiction and mental illness. Much of the last year has been spent being vetted and in litigation trying to set them apart. The hope? For the inn to become a residential treatment center. Their website advertises both and was criticized, at length, in the latest Smithfield Township supervisor’s meeting.
Schlim noted that should the old gold course be rezoned?
When asked by his attorney, Andrew Wolf: “Would the clients of that facility be allowed to be unsupervised, whether it be on the property or off the property?”, Schlim responded, “No.”
That’s not enough for people who live in both Delaware Water Gap and Smithfield Township who say they’ve had enough.
“It’s not about I don’t want to back, I don’t want a treatment center in my backyard. It’s not properly zoned. I know that residents in general, people need treatment and I want them to get their treatment in a properly zoned location,” Campbell said.
The legal battle rages on, with the next decision falling on township supervisors, set for September 9th.