Residential treatment center granted special permit in Warren County

A Columbus urologist and Illinois hospital administrator head a group seeking a conditional use permit to turn the former Kings Domain camp into an upscale, in-patient drug treatment center. LAWRENCE BUDD / STAFF
Caption
A Columbus urologist and Illinois hospital administrator head a group seeking a conditional use permit to turn the former Kings Domain camp into an upscale, in-patient drug treatment center. LAWRENCE BUDD / STAFF

A Warren County zoning board unanimously approved a permit Wednesday for an upscale, in-patient drug-treatment facility on a 120-acre former children’s camp property along the banks of the Little Miami River.

The Warren County Board of Zoning Appeals granted the permit for the Cedar Oaks Wellness Center after two meetings in private deliberation and a public hearing in May during which some residents opposed the project.

The center is to be operated at 5778 Ohio 350, in Washington Twp., Warren County, formerly the Kings Domain camp.

The campsite was to become part of the Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve until the owner of the property — purchased after the camp’s bankruptcy — declined to join efforts to buy it to enlarge the Fort Ancient footprint.

RELATED: Warren County nature preserve expansion shelved for upscale treatment-center plan

Acquisition of the former campsite also was to strengthen the state’s bid to get Fort Ancient and other Ohio parks featuring Native American culture added to the United Nations’ list of World Heritage Sites.

On Wednesday, the zoning board set 15 conditions before holding a site review plan for the development.

The center is to comply with all requirements for residential treatment centers and house no more than 90 patients at a time permitted to return to the center no more than four times a year.

Only voluntary patients are to be treated at the center to be staffed 24 hours a day. The project must comply with standards set by the Salem Twp.-Morrow Fire Department, Warren County Soil and Water District, the Ohio EPA and Department of Transportation.

Trees and vegetation are to be preserved.

RELATED: Warren County residential treatment on old camp site faces opposition

A range of in-patient treatments for drug, alcohol and tobacco addictions are to be provided.

Some camp structures would be used, with new buildings to be constructed on the ridge top area of the property.

Steve Cesler, owner of the property, said he would discuss his decision to back the treatment center, which faced opposition from residents and the Salvation Army camp, which owns a neighboring camp, youths and residents, after the zoning board decided on the permit.

Cesler, who had been on the Kings Domain Camp board, purchased the property through a limited liability corporation for $1.2 million at a sheriff’s sale in September 2018.

On May 12, Cesler was the last witness called by the lawyer representing the Cedar Oaks Wellness Center proposal during the 4½ hour hearing attended by more than 70 people, most via remote connections due COVID-19 orders.