Rochester, NH Residents Want Recovery Center to Move

Dozens of Rochester, New Hampshire, residents are signing a petition against an addiction recovery center in the downtown area.

The center has been open for two years, and residents say it's bringing an undesirable crowd into their neighborhood.

Inside the SOS Recovery Center, Director John Burns says lives are turned around.

"People are getting well because of the center," he told NBC10 Boston on Wednesday.

Robin Ricker says she's proof the program works. A year ago, she was suffering from severe depression and mental illness.

"If it wasn't for SOS, I wouldn't still be on this earth," she said.

But according to a recently filed petition, some Rochester residents think the center is doing more harm than good.

Peter Laines is one of the 66 people who signed the document. He says he has witnessed people doing drugs on the premises of the First Congregational Church, which houses the center.

"You have a lot of people congregating in one area, and people start yelling and start fights," Laines said.

Shawn Hooper has owned Moe's Sandwich Shop for the last 15 years. He didn't see the petition before it was filed, but says he would've signed it.

"Look at the empty buildings downtown," he said. "It may have impacted other people thinking about coming into downtown."

The petition is asking officials to move the recovery center to the outskirts of the city.

"I just don't think it's something that belongs in the center of town," Hooper added.

But Burns says the central location is critical to provide easy access to help for those who need it most.

"To reduce stigma, we need to educate people who don't understand, and frankly, that's all this is," Burns said.

Despite the petition, nothing is going to change. That's because SOS is an accredited recovery center and is in compliance with all zoning regulations, so the city has no authority to relocate it.

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