South Florida Veterans Facility for Those With PTSD in Limbo

Woman who wants to open facility says residents don't want it near them

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A woman stands ready to open a facility to help military veterans with PTSD and a South Florida city says it wants to help too, yet there’s no opening date in sight.

The City of Margate said it's because of a zoning problem, but Miryam Jimenez said the real trouble is with residents who don’t like the idea.

“I spent years in addiction and in the end I wanted to die and it was tough. I felt like nobody wanted me," said Randy Clark.

Clark said that he did a tour in the first Gulf War as a Marine helicopter mechanic, but when he left the Marines his life fell apart.

"One person took a shot at me. Miryam wants to take a shot that everybody has forgotten,” Clark said.

Jimenez wants to open a 34-bed facility in Margate. She said she has invested $3.5 million in renovations to the building.

"A veteran's care facility to treat veterans and first responders. We will provide treatment for PTSD and any other related issues with the PTSD," she said.

The building is in an area with homes and apartments nearby. Jimenez thinks she’s met the zoning requirements, but last month she said she was rejected for the 3rd time.

"This city is extraordinarily supportive of our veterans. We are extremely supportive of a facility that wants to help with PTSD and our veterans," Margate Mayor Arlene Schwartz said.

Schwartz also touted a list of programs Margate has to aid those who have served America, and at Margate City Hall there’s a parking spot up front that’s solely for them.

However, the mayor said Jimenez's plan doesn’t follow the city’s zoning codes.

"She built the facility in a residential area that was originally supposed to be an ALF, a senior facility. Since then its changed multiple times. The zoning does not allow for the facility she wants to run," Schwartz said.

Jimenez said the facility is completely surrounded by gates and is fenced in and no one can just come and go. She said the treatment programs run 30 to 120 days.

“If you want to be honest the residents don’t want the clientele,” Jimenez said.

"There’s probably a trust issue and the neighbors want to have an opportunity to give their point of view," Schwartz said.

South Florida is now one of the top places in the US where those leaving military service are coming to live.

Clark said he now has a family and successful job, and other vets deserve a chance like the one he got.

“A lot of people say they want to help the vets. A lot of people want to help first responders but nobody wants to do it in their neighborhood," Clark said.

Schwartz said Jimenez should file the proper paperwork, follow the zoning procedures, and the city will hold hearings for Jimenez to make her case, and the neighbors to make theirs. Schwartz said then the city can reach a final decision.

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