Rehab facility must relocate

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2014

A dozen residents of the 2100 block of South Sixth Street congregated at the regular meeting of Ironton City Council on Thursday to express concerns about a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility operating in the neighborhood.

New Beginnings Behavioral Health at 2101 S. Sixth St. had citizens alarmed, but most concerns were quelled early in the meeting.

“I want to say before I ask anyone to come up and talk that council and (Ironton mayor Rich Blankenship) asked our legal counsel for anything about a zoning issue concerning a certain counseling agency that has set up a business in the R2 district at the corner of Sixth and Kemp streets,” Philip Heald, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Kevin Waldo, said. “The opinion of counsel is that it is not permitted in that area so that may dissuade some of your concerns about wanting to express yourself to council.”

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The R2 zoning of the area in question prohibits the facility from operating at the specified location. Council member Bob Cleary asked if the decision was based on law or the opinion of the code enforcement officer.

“We researched the law and those facilities aren’t allowed in an R2 district,” Bob Anderson, city solicitor, said. “You can have multi dwelling apartments, but this is an institution for people and it’s not permitted in that district; it’s not even a close call.”

Cheryl Ackison, of 2021 S. Sixth St., asked about the next step in the process of the business vacating the premises.

“This is a function of the executive branch of our government — meaning the mayor — and so I’m going to say unless somebody else wants to add to it or has something else to say, it needs to be addressed by the mayor,” Heald said. “We are aware of the concern and there are ways of addressing it; that process starts with the mayor.”

Cleary concurred with Heald.

“What (Heald) said is probably true,” Cleary added. “I think the mayor would take over at this point. Get in touch with him. I imagine he’ll get in touch with the code enforcement officer and draft some kind of registered letter to send to them and give them so much time to vacate the property.”

Heald thanked the residents for their concern and participation and encouraged more residents’ attendance at council meetings.

A request from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control to transfer a liquor license from Tonewood Inc., operating as the Fuzzy Duck, to Morgan Holdings Ohio LLC, operating as The Laidback Bar and Grill, both listing an Ironton address of 10 Center St., was discussed at length by council.

“We have evicted who was there and they have about another week or two to get their stuff out and that’s over with,” Anderson said. “There’s no one that has any tenancy rights right now and they’ve listed the address of the Fuzzy Duck as both the transferee and the transferor. Normally the city just lets these go through when it’s going from one entity to another at the same address. It’s our recommendation the clerk be directed to send it back to the state and ask for a hearing, which can be in our county seat or in Columbus, and we’d rather have it here.”

Anderson said it should be noted on the request for a hearing the applicant doesn’t have any tenancy rights.

“That will stop it right there,” Anderson said. “The liquor department is not going to issue a permit to someone who doesn’t have any right to be there. One of the things you have to show is tenancy rights. We can’t turn it down, but they are asking us if we object to it.”

The city’s objection comes not only as a governing body, but also as the property owner.

“The city of Ironton owns this property and neither party has a right to possess the property or have a business there,” Anderson said.

Angela McHone, of 2129 S. Sixth St., said she can’t park in front of her house without getting ticketed, but the tickets them seem to vanish.

“I went to court three times and all were thrown out,” she said. “I kind of assumed I could park there because they thrown out and my neighbor’s son parked there a few days later and he got a ticket. He went to court and it was like the ticket never existed or wasn’t reported. My question is who do we need to talk with to see if we can park in front of our home? I’m afraid to park in front of my house because I don’t want to get another ticket but the ticket was thrown out of court so am I allowed or am I not allowed?”

Anderson suggested McHone address the issue with mayor Blankenship who could then have a discussion with the chief of police and if the tickets are in fact being thrown out the mayor would likely say the tickets shouldn’t be issued.

McHone said she had not yet addressed the situation with the mayor or the chief of police.

Ordinance 14-22 authorizing the mayor to award the state contract bid for a custom fire engine and declaring an emergency was given its second reading. With Waldo and Aaron Bollinger absent a required two-thirds majority could not be obtained, therefore no rules could be suspended.

Ordinance 14-23 authorizing the mayor to purchase new Dumpsters for the city had its first reading.

The four Dumpsters will serve the Holiday Inn Express and Suites being built as part of the Gateway Project. The cost shall not exceed $4,000, according to the ordinance, and will be purchased from the city’s garbage equipment replacement fund.

Council approved Tom Klein’s appointment to the city’s zoning appeals board to complete the late Paul Glanville’s term, which ends Aug. 1.

Ironton City Council meets in regular session at 6 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday each month on the third floor of the city center on South Third Street.