Controversial West Chester drug rehab under construction

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Work has begun at drug rehab site in West Chester

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The outside of a former West Chester Twp. nursing home site still looks as dilapidated as ever, but work has begun to transform the building into the drug rehab center that caused the community so much consternation.

Dr. Mohamed Aziz received building permits from Butler County this week and a bulldozer has started to clear the adjacent site on Ohio 42..

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For months the West Chester trustees’ meetings were packed with people who did not want a drug rehab in their backyard.

Karen Werling, owner of Hickory Dickory Tots daycare that sits next to the former nursing home, said rehab centers are necessary, “… just not in the middle of our community where we are serving so many young children.

“Birds of a feather can sometimes flock together, so not only do you have the inpatient people, but you have all the people coming in to visit with those people,” she said.

The property sits across from the Pisgah Youth Organization ball fields, next to the daycare center and in front of a residential neighborhood.

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When the township trustees learned of Aziz’s plans, they placed a moratorium on facilities like that so they could study the impact on the community.

Aziz eventually sued the township in federal court over its efforts to block his business, and the two sides ended up settling in December. The consent decree, signed in January, contains conditions with safety implications that involve the clientele of the business, their access to the building, and security measures. Patients have to go voluntarily — no court ordered treatment — and there have to be secured in-patient wings, for example.

Aaron Wiegand, director of West Chester’s Community Development Department, said the permitting process with the township went smoothly.

“They got their permits with us relatively quickly after the consent decree, without much issue at all,” Wiegand said. “Quite frankly the consent decree spelled out everything everyone had to do, so there was not a big hubbub with us.”