WILKES-BARRE — A pastor familiar with a house discussed at a city council meeting this week tried to allay concerns about how it’s being used in a residential neighborhood, saying it’s not a treatment center or halfway house.
Andrew Jerome, pastor of the Parsons Primitive Methodist Church on Austin Avenue, said he lives right across the street from the property that’s being used by the Keystone Rescue Mission as “sober housing” for men.
Jerome said the neighboring Parsons Baptist Church owns the home.
“They have a parsonage. All they did was allow the use of the house,” Jerome said Wednesday.
Attempts to reach Wayne Nichol of Larksville, pastor of the Parsons Baptist Church, and Joseph Roach, who is associated with the Mission, were unsuccessful. Roach, of the Bronx, N.Y. also is pastor of the Primitive Methodist Church in Nanticoke.
The house’s use and whether it was in violation of city zoning laws were raised by councilman Bill Barrett at a Tuesday night work session.
“We’ve got to be going through the process,” Barrett said of making sure the house complied with zoning regulations.
The property was not listed on any of the agendas for the Wilkes-Barre Zoning Hearing Board last year and in January.
It could not be determined how many men stay at the house. Jerome said he thought it’s been up and running for a few weeks. There haven’t been any problems, he added.
“They’re all working,” Jerome said of the residents. “They just sleep and live there.”
“They haven’t made a peep since they got there,” he added.
The city’s view of the property and next course of action — if any — will likely be discussed at Thursday night’s regular council meeting, according to Barrett.