Origins Recovery Center on South Padre Island is one of the premier rehab centers in Texas and has been nestled in the heart of the Island since 2010. With continued success and growth over the past few years, Origins began the request for a Specific Use Permit (SUP) to expand their properties here on the Island.
At the October 15 SPI Regular City Council Meeting, all discussions and plans began in 2013 finally came to a decision by the council to approve Origin’s request for the SUP for a Substance Abuse Treatment Facility to develop at 206 W. Aries Dr. Lot 4 Block 152 Padre Beach Subdivision and Lot 1 Block 1 Jones Gardere Subdivision Section X.
During the meeting, the public was given the opportunity to voice opinions and concerns about the permit request. Those in favor were able to speak first. Ellen Walker, resident of the Island and mother of a rehabilitated addict, wanted to share a unique perspective.
Her personal story of her son’s success at Origins was touching to all who listened. Through visits with her son, Walker and her husband were inspired to retire at the Island and are now active members who volunteer in the community. Walker shared, “In my opinion, the Origins Recovery Center brings nothing but goodness to the community. Their clients do volunteer work on the Island. Many work here in the community. Their families visit and stay in our hotels and eat at our restaurants.
She concluded by saying, “I had someone recently ask me how I would feel if Origins built directly next door to my home. I thought for a moment, and responded with confidence that I could not ask for a better and more stable neighbor. I would be proud to live in a community that supported a group that did so much good and provided the tools to so many individuals resulting in their personal miracles. I know my son would not be here had he not had his personal miracle at Origins.”
Those in opposition of the permit request lined up next for their chance to speak. Six people shared their concerns, the majority being owners of the property at Galleon Bay Condominiums, which sits adjacent to the proposed new site. Many of the owners were concerned about a lack of information from Origins regarding how the property would be developed and had previously filed a petition against the permit. The main concerns were aesthetics including obstruction of balcony views, safety, and property devaluation, as well as noise and commercial kitchen odors.
Ramona Kantack Alcantara, attorney representative for Galleon Bay, commented on the lack of council members present at the meeting. Only four members were in attendance for this particular meeting, and Kantack Alcantara argued that according to Title 7 of the local government code section 211.006, if a petition has been filed by the area covered by the proposed change extending from 200 feet from that area, then it is going to take three quarters of the vote of all members of the governing body to approve the permit. She appealed that five out of six council members must vote in favor to approve the SUP and that the decision should be postponed until a sufficient number of council members were present to reach a threshold.
She went on to say, “All of us who live and work here love Origins. They are a great organization. The question is, is this the proper neighborhood for them to locate in?”
The council addressed this issue explaining that the rule only applies to a zoning, boundary, or regulation change and not to a permit request.
Council member Alita Bagley said, “Thank all of you that are here this evening. We certainly appreciate and have heard your comments. I for one have read every letter that was sent to us. I can promise you that. I would imagine I can speak for my fellow council members that they have done the same.”
The council acknowledged the resident’s concerns: these concerns had been previously addressed by adding conditions to the permit that were based on discussions with local community members.
Council Member Berry Patel pointed out, “Origins has done a first class job in maintaining their existing property on Padre Boulevard.”
The lack of space on the Island is a significant factor in this issue, and the City Council has seen this matter many times. Council Member Alex Avalos referenced Schlitterbahn as a classic example of this situation because people initially had concerns, but he noted that Schlitterbahn has become an important part of the Island’s economy. Patel supported his comments, adding, “We live in about two square miles of property. That’s all we have folks. So, there are going to be times when the person that’s building a condominium complex or the facility such as this, will be an inconvenience. It’s just the mature of the beast since we live in an area that’s so compact. I’ve faced this issue many times on South Padre Island and had to live with it.” With that, he motioned to approve the Special Use Permit and the motion passed.