West Chester takes step toward restricting drug rehabs

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West Chester takes step toward restricting drug rehabs

One West Chester Twp. resident says studies show locating a drug rehab near homes drops property values eight to 17 percent, but trustees Tuesday night gave a first reading to a zoning change that makes treatment centers a conditional use.

The change, however, would force officials to consider the effects on neighboring properties and include other restrictions.

For nearly five months trustees have heard dozens of people speak out about the how locating a drug rehab in an old nursing home on Ohio 42 would be harmful. They concede drug addicts need the help Dr. Mohamed Aziz can provide, but they said they find the location troubling.

Joe Wieland interjected a new wrinkle to the issue: the direct impact on neighboring property owners. He produced a study on the financial impact of drug rehabs on neighbors.

“The conclusion of the study is that residential substance abuse treatment centers adversely impact the price of neighboring homes,” he said. “Homes within an eighth of a mile of a treatment center are approximately eight percent less than otherwise comparable homes.”

Wieland said the value loss jumps to 17 percent if methadone is part of the treatment. It’s a little hazy but there have been some statements that type of treatment program is not in the plans for the Professional Psychiatric Services facility.

After placing a nine-month moratorium on drug rehab centers, the trustees approved a first reading of a resolution that puts restrictions on such facilities.

The resolution creates a new “use” category called institutional care facilities and permits them with conditions determined by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), but only in commercial and manufacturing districts. One of the things the BZA must consider is “whether the essential character of the neighborhood would be substantially altered or whether adjoining properties would suffer a substantial detriment as a result of the variance.”

Gene Drozd, treasurer of the Pisgah Youth Organization, whose ball fields sit directly across from the proposed medical facility, said he now has almost 1,000 signatures on petitions they have been circulating. He once again reiterated the position of PYO and other neighbors.

“We again are in a position where a bunch of folks are totally against the location. We understand the need of the community, we understand the doctor probably does very good work, but we are just totally opposed to that location,” Drozd said.

Trustee Board President Mark Welch said he doesn’t know at this point whether Aziz will eventually be allowed to move into the building.

“After the moratorium is lifted at the end of the year, then Dr. Aziz will be able to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals, because his would be a conditional use and the BZA would determine whether or not he would be permitted to open a facility there,” Welch said.

“We need to be fully understanding the proposal and how is that going to leave us,” he said. “In every dispute for every party that’s just a losing option for every person to entertain, if it becomes perhaps the only option.”

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