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Ordinance passed for group homes

Will have to get permit, be inspected

Ironton City Council passed an ordinance requiring new group homes to be inspected and get a city permit before opening its doors.

Councilman Nate Kline said there had been complaints from residents who found that they were suddenly living next to a group home.

Council had the first reading on Ordinance 19-17, which would require an annual business permit for group homes in the city.

It would be up to the city’s building code officer to issue the permits after a number of conditions were met, such as owners of the group homes passing a background check.

The buildings would have to be in properly-zoned areas and be no closer than within 1,000 feet of a school, public park, library, senior citizen living facility or another group home. There would be a $1,000 fee for the permit and the group homes would go through an annual inspection by the building code officer and the fire department. The group home would also have to give a list of employees and residents to the chief of police.

Kline said that they want to make sure that people are living in a safe environment.

Kline said he researched what other cities have done in similar situations and consulted with Ironton Police Chief Pam Wagner and Ironton Fire Chief Mike Malmeister as to what their opinions and issues were.

Vice Mayor Rich Blankenship asked whether current group homes would have to be held to the same standards. He was informed by legal counsel Brigham Anderson that they couldn’t retroactively apply all the rules, although the list of employees would apply.

The rule that requires group homes to move if they are within 1,000 feet of a school, public park, library, senior citizen facility or other group home could not be applied retroactively.

Ordinance 19-14 was sent to the council’s Strategic Planning Committee for further discussion. It would establish a penalty for failing to pay various city fees and make not paying the municipal, economic development, flood, fire, administrative, municipal or storm water fee a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

The council also passed a resolution amending the city’s legal fight against the makers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs.

The amendment allows the city to “pursue any and all claims for relief in civil litigation … against any and all defendants necessary” and to add defendants as recommended by the lawsuit’s attorneys and to add additional claims as necessary.

In other matters before the council:

• Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith said that the city is back in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Rehabilitation and Inspection Program. The RIP program specifically defines the types of projects that can be eligible for assistance, and specifies the ongoing for operation and maintenance requirements for the flood control systems that qualify.

By doing the required mock gate closure, the city qualifies for the RIP program. That way, if there is damage to the city’s flood defense system during a flood, the city can apply to receive federal assistance to repair it.

Keith thanked Mike Pemberton, the Flood Department superintendent.

“It is a huge accomplishment,” she said. “His team really stepped up and we thank them for all that they did for the city. I am very excited that we are back in the program, that should there be a disaster, FEMA or the Corps of Engineers would come in and help pay for things.”

• Ironton resident Vernon Wilson talked to the council about the possibility of occasionally bringing back the tradition of cruising in downtown Ironton for teenagers.

The Ironton City Council passed an ordinance that banned cruising in August 1996 and made it a fourth-degree misdemeanor. However, cruising continued well into the 2000s.

Wilson suggested that just like the nostalgic cruise in held by the Friends of Ironton last summer, there be a teen cruise-in event.

He asked for an amendment to the ordinance so that the current generation of teenagers could enjoy cruising the strip in Ironton.

“Like a hometown pep rally,” Wilson said.

Blankenship said that he didn’t think that an amendment would be needed as the mayor has the authority to allow events like the cruise in.

Wilson suggested that the cruise be held on Thursdays and be over at a reasonable time like 9 p.m. and then everyone would have to go home. He also suggested having vendors set up booths.

“If you bring people here, they are going to spend money,” he said.

Blankenship suggested that Wilson talk to the mayor about setting up such an event.

The council’s Public Utility Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday to discuss the surveys that will be on the utility bill.

• An ordinance for the police department to provide security at the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority was approved.

• The council also approved the creation and registration of a revitalization district for the city of Ironton.