NewsTreasure CoastRegion Martin CountyStuart


Rival addiction centers battle and other interests debate building new facility in Stuart

Battle gained additional attention after Martin County Sheriff’s Office involved itself in dispute
Posted at 11:34 PM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 09:14:36-04

STUART, Fla. — An unusual voice entered himself into the debate over a 140-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and detox facility in Stuart: Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.

His opposition increased interest in a conflict, which originally was mostly vocalized in public meetings between two competitors in the drug and alcohol rehabilitation industry.

Jason Ackner, who is trying to build the facility, said competition has spread misinformation about his project. He said these were lies to convince the public and commissioners to stop the project.

"That is another lie," Ackner said. "None of this information was created by me or reviewed by me. This is what the competitors handed you to fearmonger and to getting this denial because of their own personal greed and fear."

He never specified the specific company attacking his company. However, it was implied throughout the three-hour meeting that the competition is Coastal Detox.

Coastal Detox, which is less than a mile away from the proposed site, performs a similar service. City commissioners announced they met with members of the company and Ike Crumpler, who told WPTV he's working with Coastal Detox.

Coastal Detox in Stuart
Coastal Detox is less than a mile from a proposed sober home facility in Stuart, Fla.

Christina Tucker, the company's CEO, according to state records, declined to comment about the development. Crumpler also declined to comment.

Ross Tucker, who said on LinkedIn that his family owns Coastal Detox, previously told the city's local planning agency in March that the development would make it more difficult for their company to hire staff.

"By bringing in this facility, it would severely hurt us from a staff standpoint," he said at the time.

No representative from Coastal Detox attended Monday night's meeting.

Unrelated to the corporate dispute, Snyder said the development would negatively influence public safety. He said he's not against treatment but against the amount of people coming from out of state.

"When they fail out of the program, which they will, they'll be in my jail," Snyder said. "They'll be in these people's backyards. They'll be on the streets."

Sheriff William Snyder voices opposition to proposed sober home at Stuart Commission meeting, May 13, 2024
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder voices his opposition to a proposed sober home during a City Commission meeting, May 13, 2024, in Stuart, Fla.

He also argued enough addiction treatment centers are already open in Martin County to help Floridians.

Some people, who attended the meeting, gave the sheriff a standing ovation and screamed words of support after his speech to Stuart commissioners. Those against the project tried to reiterate his message.

"Where are those people going to go when they fail?" one attendee said. "Just like (Sheriff) Snyder said: They're going to be in my backyard."

"Sheriff Synder, who is one of the best sheriffs I've ever heard about, tells us that it's not going to be a good idea to have these types of people living right in this community," another attendee said.

Ackner said he already operates similar facilities in Martin County, which contains 173 beds. He also had Michael Gauger, a retired chief deputy from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and candidate for Palm Beach County sheriff, vouch for his company and operation during Monday's meeting.

"This is a professional organization," Gauger said. "They [the patients] can't wander. I toured the facility. I was impressed."

City commissioners also said they preferred the multi-family residence, which the land is currently zoned as of today, to help with the housing need in Stuart.

The applicant argued in a presentation to WPTV that civil rights could be violated if the proposal is denied, a possible precursor for a potential lawsuit against the city.