2012-08-25 / News

Request for adult group home denied

By Scott Rawdon

BALTIMORE- The Liberty Township Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously denied a request for a conditional use permit to construct an Adult Group home on the former Roshon property.

“There are a lot of gaps in the plan,” said BZA member Barbara Sellers August 14, when about 30 people attended the BZA’s meeting. “I was concerned with a lack of complete planning for the conditions that may occur. It seemed like maybe the request was premature.”

Developer Charles Hagy, who purchased a 100-acre site formerly owned by the Roshon family at 5805 Heimberger Lane where a 200 unit development was planned but never built, wants to build House of Agape, a women’s recovery transition home, or halfway house, for women transitioning from drug rehabilitation to mainstream society. The home is proposed to house up to six tenants at a time.

According to the Ohioans for Responsible Rural Development (a citizens group that monitors development in Liberty Township and surrounding areas) web site, the BZA was unable to make a determination at its first public hearing on the issue held July 17, as members were still waiting for an opinion from the Fairfield County Prosecuting Attorney’s office regarding the property’s zoning status.

The property was rezoned from RR (Rural Residential) to PUD (Planned Unit Development) in 2003 to accommodate the Roshon family’s proposed project. The PUD was never developed. According to Liberty Township zoning, a group home is not permitted under PUD, but it is under RR. Zoning Inspector Ruth Crutcher told BZA members that a Fairfield County assistant prosecuting attorney told her that since the Roshon family’s project was never built, the property reverted back to RR zoning.

However, board members weren’t ready to grant Hagy’s request.

Board member Karl Kumler, a physician, said from what he understood of the project, he didn’t believe the people running the facility would have proper licensing in psychology and counseling. “That’s a concern for me,” he said.

According to the ORRD web site, Hagy said he believed such a facility is required to have state licensing.

“The state licenses just about everything these days,” said Kumler. “That would be one of the expected things.” Also, he said, “The neighbors are pretty much 100 percent against this.” The board needs to consider the community’s wishes, he said. “That’s compatibility. You want to have neighbors where they’re all for what you’re doing.” Kumler summarized his concerns as being the education of the people running the proposed group home and neighbors’ negativity. He said otherwise the project conformed to construction requirements.

“I know everyone wants to say, ‘not in my backyard,’” said board chair Bill McNeer, but he shared the concern about the facility’s ability to care for its tenants. “I know it’s well intended,” he said.

Board members rejected the conditional use request based on compatibility and insufficient education requirements for employees.

Crutcher said Hagy could appeal the BZA decision in court.

“I don’t know, we’ll take a look at it,” said Hagy, unsure whether he’ll appeal the decision. Of the denial, he said, “Ain’t much to say when you’re trying to help people.”

ORRD spokesman Dave Stone simply said, “We’re very pleased with the decision.”

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