Town of Merrillville

MERRILLVILLE — The owners of the Coleman House are seeking a new location to operate their nonmedical assisted living service.

This comes after the Town Council on Tuesday denied a variance of use Dennis and Martha Coleman were seeking to continue operating the care facility in a residential area.

There are currently 12 people living in the five-bedroom house in the 6300 block of Vermont Street. There also are two caregivers at the location at all times.

Town officials said they believe the service is needed and commended the Colemans for offering it, but they believe the home isn’t suitable for the care facility.

Although the council denied the variance, the panel decided to give the Colemans six months to find new housing arrangements for their clients or relocate the business to another location.

“We’re not looking to have anybody homeless,” Town Council President Richard Hardaway said.

Town officials said the home isn’t large enough for all of the people living there. There also were concerns about regular ambulance calls to the area, many of which occur late at night.

“I’ve been woken up by the lights,” said Councilwoman Roxanne LaMarca, who lives near the Coleman House.

Hardaway said he understands care facilities often have many ambulance calls, but “those conditions aren’t fitting for a neighborhood.”

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Dennis Coleman said he hopes to find another location in Lake County to continue operating the Coleman House.

Hardaway said he would welcome the care facility in another area of Merrillville that’s better suited for the business.

Dennis Coleman said he initially purchased the Vermont Street home for his mother and later decided to open up the house to other people needing assistance. He said that was partly to have companionship for his mother.

After his mother died, the Colemans decided to continue operating the care facility.

“We think we’re doing a good service,” Dennis Coleman said.

He said he wasn’t aware a variance was needed, because a nonprofit organization that previously owned the residence had a group home there. The house already had accommodations for people with disabilities when the Colemans purchased it, Dennis Coleman said.

The Colemans said many of their clients are elderly and can’t afford to live in other assisted living centers. They said many living there don’t have family or friends to care for them.

“We’re trying to do what we can to help people,” Dennis Coleman said.

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