South Vienna group home plans scrapped

Applicant withdraws rezoning application for the property after community opposition and failure to obtain votes from zoning board.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The applicant for a proposed group home that failed to obtain a recommendation from the Clark County Rural Zoning Commission after a contentious public meeting last week withdrew the proposal, the county announced Tuesday.

The proposal was to turn a mixed-use space into a group home run by New Housing Ohio (NHO) for people who are disabled due to mental illness, Jim Lagos, an attorney representing property owner Denna Johnson, said at a public meeting Sept. 14. He said after discussion with several residents nearby the more than three acres of property, the applicants would have agreed to 12 conditions, if the proposal passed.

These included criminal background checks for residents, prohibiting people who are not U.S. citizens from living in the home, NHO staff or residents’ family members providing transportation, comprehensive drug screenings, never conducting drug or alcohol rehabilitation, complying with the Ohio Basic Building Code for renovations, providing a tour of the facility for the public once it’s finished, annual septic system inspections, giving special consideration to disabled veterans and eastern Clark County residents, plus banning firearms and alcohol consumption on the property.

The property at 8518 E. National Road had served for decades as a lamp shop and also once was an inn.

More than 60 county residents attended last week’s public meeting, with many explaining why they opposed rezoning the land to include a group home.

Scott Boone, NHO president, said with the rural zoning commission voting unanimously against the project and a large number of community members showing up to voice their opposition, NHO decided it would regroup to see where to go from here.

“The las thing we want to do is be in a community that doesn’t want us,” Boone said.

Several people said they were concerned about the state of the septic system, which is old and expected to fail. Others drilled in on the zoning issues, while others said they were concerned about the safety for nearby residents, schoolchildren and drivers in the area.

Zoning Commission Chairperson Ken Brust at the meeting expressed concerns about the residents of the group home if the septic system fails. He also said he feels the drug screening is “worthless” if these are not performed randomly on a regular basis.

According to a Facebook post by the Clark County government, NHO withdrew its application and “is not seeking further development” of the property.

If NHO had decided to move forward with the application, the proposal would have gone in front of the Clark County Commission, where it would need a majority vote to pass.

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