SIDNEY — The Sidney Zoning Board of Appeals approved a request Monday to allow a transitional housing facility for inmates in drug recovery to be built on the property of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Garmann/Miller, on behalf of Shelby County Commissioners, requested the expansion of a non-conforming use for the facility at 555 Gearhart Road in the community business district because residential use at this location is prohibited. The Sheriff’s Office is a conditionally permitted use in the B-2 district, which is for a municipal or government building for general administrative activity of a governmental entity.
The Shelby County Jail, which a principally permitted use, is also located on the property, but is not listed as a permitted use in any other district. The proposed facility will be an extension of the existing correctional facility that will allow residents to come and go at will and intends to facilitate inmates’ transition back into the community and remain drug free.
Because inmates are not allowed to drive or receive visitors, no additional parking will be added, Community Services Director Barbara Dulworth said.
Staff recommended the approval despite the prohibition for residential use (with the exception of a funeral home), because the expansion of the services to be offered at the Sheriff’s Office will “benefit the entire community,” Dulworth said.
Board member Randy Rose asked if the facility will be used for Shelby County residents.
Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann told the board primary consideration will be given to Shelby County residents for the 90-day stay within the 20-bed facility. She said residents will be required to pay a small “stipend” for their stay. If room is available in the future, it would likely be open to people associated with the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services, out of Miami or Darke Counties, Ehemann said.
The question was asked whether it would also house females. Ehemann said the facility will only be available to male residents at this time. She said this was based on the greater desire of males to seek help versus females, currently. It was reported that more males have come forward to seek help and following through with treatment than the female prisoners.
Ehemann was asked what would happen if a resident relapsed? She said the person would go back to jail.
“Our goal is that they will develop resources while they are staying in the transitional treatment house. They are going to be employed. They are going to be going to counseling and on medication assisted treatment. … we will help them find independent living,” Ehemann said.
The board had several questions related to the facility and substance addiction. Board chair David Fleming said these questions would likely be answered at the Community Conversation held on Oct. 1 at St. Johns’s Lutheran Church, 120 W. Water St.
In other business, the board also granted the request of Shon Kemp for a conditional use permit for an accessory structure square footage over 1,000-square-feet prescribed in the zoning code at 2433 Millcreek Road in the single family residence district.
Dulworth recommended the board to grant the request with the condition that a storage building and a carport/cover currently on the property must be removed within 30 days of the new building’s construction.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, adjacent property owner Charles Cole spoke out against the request. He said, in his opinion, the appearance Kemp’s property is never well kept. Cole said there has been many items, such as a tractors, motorcycles, boats, four-wheelers, etc., kept on the property “now and then.”
“Frankly, I think it would be a very strong detriment to the entire area where we are talking about (to approve the request),” Cole said.
Kemp told the board the reason he wants to construct the building is to remove the other two structures and put everything inside of the new building. He told the board it will be built soon and will not wait until next spring, when asked what the construction time frame was.
Fleming told Cole that if he thinks a property is “unsightly,” he could call the city to inquire about whether it is in violation of the city code.
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