By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

A church based out of Florida has acquired property in Hartsville with plans to turn the old house into a drug/alcohol rehabilitation facility.

Haven House Mission Church purchased the 18-acre property at 814 E. McMurry Blvd. for an estimated $530,000, according to Zillow.com. Haven House operates a treatment center in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., and also operates three thrift stores in Florida and one in Lebanon at the former location of Save-a-Lot.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
This home on McMurry Blvd. will eventually become Haven House’s drug/alcohol treatment center.

Haven House Director Charles Plauche spoke with The Vidette about plans to operate the facility in Hartsville.

“It’s a discipleship recovery program,” said Plauche, a pastor who started Haven House nearly 20 years ago. “This residence will be the second (facility) we operate.

“It’s long-term; we’re not related with any court system… It’s strictly a standalone program. We’re limited in who we can take because of our skill set. We don’t take any violent offenders or sex offenders,” he said.

Asked why Haven House looked at Hartsville, Plauche said the opening of the Lebanon thrift store helped the church see the need in Middle Tennessee.

“We were looking for a place conducive to a peaceful setting and serve as a good residence to what we’re doing,” Plauche said.

Haven House is a discipleship-based program and does not utilize doctors, nor does it take referrals from the criminal justice system, according to Plauche. Those in treatment in Hartsville will work at the Lebanon thrift store as part of the recovery process, which Plauche said also is intended to help men learn leadership skills.

“If you just put someone through a program but don’t train them how to work, how to be valuable in the community… then they’ll go right back when they were,” Plauche said.

Haven House’s program lasts for 12 months and is designed to minister to men who are motivated to seek help for alcohol or drug abuse. Background checks are run on those seeking help to ensure the safety of other residents.

Photo courtesy of Lebanon Democrat
Haven House also operates this thrift store in Lebanon.

“We want people who are motivated, who know they need to change… It’s all about finding a spiritual life… We believe without faith in Christ, we can’t make it,” Plauche said.

It will likely be several months before Haven House opens in Hartsville, as the residence needs repair work done. Once it opens, it will be designed to house up to eight patients at a time.

Haven House’s treatment has a long-term success rate of around 70 percent for those who complete the program, according to Plauche, who also noted that the program also has a low turnover rate.

Concerns have been raised locally about having a treatment center in Hartsville. Plauche has met with County Mayor Stephen Chambers and County Attorney Branden Bellar to assuage community questions.

Haven House is a religious-based non-profit that has been approved by the IRS.

Chambers noted that as a religious non-profit, Haven House is likely exempt from zoning regulations under both the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and under a state religious freedom statute.

“My understanding is it’s all religious-based; they do Bible studies and church services, through teachings of the Bible,” Chambers told The Vidette.

“On the federal side under the RLUIPA, you can’t have any land use requirements that would create a substantial burden on the practice of their religion,” Chambers said.

“You’re in a grey area there, but there’s also a state statute that uses much of the same language.”

Chambers noted a recent case in Davidson County in which a federal court said a church could proceed with a lawsuit against Metro Nashville government under RLUIPA.

Plauche encouraged anyone with questions about the church and its program to visit their websites at havenhousemissionchurch.org (church) and havenhouse.net (recovery program). Haven House can also be reached at 1-888-622-3702.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.