Sheila McLaughlin reports:
James Venters was shopping for a place to open a small residential drug treatment center, a facility he said is lacking for Medicaid recipients in Greater Cincinnati where heroin use has become epidemic.
He thought he found the perfect spot at 9018 Columbus-Cincinnati Rd. (U.S. 42) just south of Cox Road in a former nursing home that would need little renovation.
His idea didn’t pass muster with the West Chester Township Board of Zoning Appeals in a hearing that went late Wednesday night.
In a 3-2 vote, the board narrowly turned Venters down after youth athletics officials, the owner of a child care center and other nearby property owners said it would put kids at risk and jeopardize their businesses. Addicts wouldn’t be barred from leaving the rehab center if they didn’t want to complete treatment, Venters said, and licensed counselors would double as security.
“First and foremost, I have to protect my children. I can’t believe you would put this next to an elementary school. I consider my school to be the same type of facility … where we are responsible for the care and nurturing and security of the children all day,” said Karen Werling who opened Hickory Dickory Tots across the street from the site in 2009.
She said she also was concerned that drugs would be smuggled into the center even though Venters said staff would only dispense drugs that were prescribed by a patients personal physician and mood-altering drugs would not be allowed.
“You can tell me you search for drugs. They search for drugs and they get in prisons all the time and they do have armed guards there,” Werling said.
Robert Quatkemeyer, a trustee with the Pisgah Youth Organization which has an athletic park south of the site, said the lack of security at the rehab center could expose more than 800 young athletes to addicts who might hide at the park to escape from treatment.
“It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t need to be there,” he said.
The treatment center proposal included room for 30 patients at a time. An average stay would be 28 days, Venters said, although some clients would opt for 90-day treatment.
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