EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – With three members absent, the city’s planning commission voted unanimously in a public hearing on Tuesday against recommending a rezoning for the West Seventh Street property, which would allow the creation of a detoxification clinic.
The commission voted 5-0 to recommend that city council not change the zoning at 231 W. Seventh St. from R-3 Residential to B-3 Institutional and Office, which includes areas set aside for business offices, professional offices, laboratories and scientific research facilities as well as religious, charitable or philanthropic institutions.
The property is being considered by Pinnacle Treatment Centers of New Jersey for a drug-assisted treatment center.
While the existing building was recently used as a licensed medical office by a previous zoning change, this office ceased operations a few years ago and the zoning reverted to the original residential classification.
The city council will now consider the measure with the final decision in its hands, according to retired planning director Bill Cowan, who was present to take the minutes of the meeting.
Daniel Wolfe, president of owner Twenty-Six 3 Properties Inc., a nonprofit agency founded by the Columbiana-Metropolitan Housing Authority, on whose board Wolfe also sits, spoke out in favor of the zoning change .
“We don’t have a lot of people knocking on our properties,” Wolfe told the commission.
He said Pinnacle intends to invest more than $400,000 in the clinic, which would be one of 127 facilities it operates across multiple states.
According to Wolfe, the company plans to have on-site security “to make sure there’s no waiting on the property.”
Opposition to the zoning change was voiced by former City Councilman and Denver Street resident Craig Stowers, who expressed opposition to such a facility in a residential neighborhood.
Stowers provided statistics he researched online that indicated that drug-assisted treatment facilities are a $42 billion-a-year industry. According to his research, Stowers said, property values decline by up to 18% in neighborhoods where such facilities are placed. He expressed concern that clients being treated for substance abuse may also have criminal histories or mental health issues.
“They are going to have a security guard walking around. Do people want to see this all the time? Stowers questioned the commission. Stowers reported that there were about 20 residential properties within a three-block radius of the proposed clinic and presented a petition with 30 signatures of those opposing it.
The Stowers family live off rental properties in the city, and Stowers told the commission that his parents sold everything they owned in the 1970s to buy their house downtown, which he estimated about 500 yards away. of the proposed clinic and where his mother still resides. .
He said the neighborhood is well-maintained, with low crime, and he spent about $15,000 cleaning up a corner property at Jefferson and Seventh Street.
At the recent city council meeting, Stowers said, he addressed members, saying there should be a special zoning classification for drug addiction clinics. “I’m not saying they aren’t necessary, but they certainly aren’t necessary in a residential area. There are many other things that can go into empty buildings,” Stowers told the commission.
Prior to the vote, Wolfe informed the committee that if it wished to table the matter, he could ask a Pinnacle official to attend a future meeting to better explain the clinic’s plans.
However, after Cowan advised the commission that her role is only to make a recommendation to council, member Debra Fickes offered to recommend against the zoning change, City Services Safety Director David Dawson, offering a second.
Members who voted against the zoning change were Fickes, Dawson, Lou Volino, Timothy Brooks and Brad Goodballet. Mayor Greg Bricker, Craig Kidd and Mario Hernandez were absent from the meeting.
Councilman Brian Kerr was present at the public hearing but made no comment. The next regular council meeting is March 7.
Pictured: A former medical practice at 231 W Seventh Street, East Liverpool, is believed to be a drug-assisted rehabilitation clinic.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.