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Measurement may decide fate of group home plan in Miami Twp. neighborhood

The fate of a proposed group home for youths in Miami Twp. might come down to a matter of feet.

Residents around the Eckley Boulevard house in which Safe Ward, Inc. wants to operate a residential social service facility for up to six 12- to 17-year-old males contend it would be too close to a nearby facility that performs a similar function.

Among the guidelines set by the township is that “no other community oriented residential social service facility is issued a conditional use certificate within 1,500 feet of the property” at 2600 Eckley Blvd.

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Sean Bohn of Rossini Road said records show the proposed home would violate that guideline. Choices in Community Living owns a property at 2201 Brahms Blvd., about two blocks east of the Eckley Boulevard house, Montgomery County records show.

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The Choices in Community Living website indicates the house offers “supervised group home living for up to four individuals in personalized living spaces,” Bohn told the township board of zoning earlier this month.

Measurements record the distance from the Brahms and Eckley properties between 1,426 and 1,438 feet, he said.

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“Placing a foster care center at 2600 Eckley Boulevard will violate the zoning code,” Bohn told the board. “I ask you to consider this fact before rendering your decision.”

Bohn was among about 40 residents at the Board of Zoning Appeals’ meeting on the issue earlier this month. The board is set to revisit Safe Ward’s request next month after determining the distance between the two sites, said BZA Chairman James Hamilton.

Safe Ward is seeking a conditional use permit for the Eckley site, which is east of Ohio 741 near Cox Arboretum. Safe Ward co-operator Rachica Ward said the non-profit corporation that started in 2016 is required to have a residential home for the facility before receiving its Ohio license.

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The distance issue appears to be the only township guideline in question, officials have said.

Safe Ward has provided the township with more than 200 pages of documents outlining policies including admissions assessments, residents’ bill of rights and discharge criteria.

Ward said she and Rakesha Holmes would be administrators in a facility that would “provide both long and short-term care, and the ultimate goal of the facility would be to reunite the children with their families if possible,” township records show.

The home would have full- and part-time caregivers who would work both day and night shifts, records show. They would utilize a current bedroom and would not be permitted to sleep on duty, according to records.

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Three bedrooms would be designated for residents, who would live in “a structured environment with activities for children who would be enrolled in school,” township records indicate.

Residents would not have driving privileges, and they may be placed in the facility from other Ohio cities or from other states, according to records.

Holmes said she “could not guarantee” residents will have no criminal history. She said the home would be operated in “such a way that it would not change the current environment of the neighborhood and that the children would be busy with planned activities and school,” according to township records.

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But questions about how the facility will impact the neighborhood are among the issues residents on and around Eckley have with the plan.

Barb Miller, who has an 11-year-old daughter, said she and others don’t want the facility in their neighborhood.

They want the BZA to practice “sound, mindful, thorough and cautious decision-making” but “find the facts in support of denial for the conditional use permit.”

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