PDT Staff Writer
Fifth Ward City Councilman Gene Meadows says he believes the neighborhood where Willow Way is located is not zoned for business, making Scioto Residential Services’ plan to place a group home there a breach of the zoning of that street.
“Last week, one of the Fifth Ward constituents spoke to City Council regarding Scioto Residential Services, which is, from what we can find out, attempting to put a group home-type facility on Willow Way,” Meadows said. “While I missed quite a bit of work last week, it is my understanding they have retained counsel to deal with a deed restriction issue in that area.”
Officials at Scioto Residential Services say they are in the process of making a residence at 3008 Willow Way into a residential home for a handful of people with developmental disabilities.
“We purchased a home up there,” Jennifer Meade, director of Scioto Residential Services, said. “It’s going to be a residential home for three or four individuals. They are all developmentally disabled. They have to be to be eligible for our services.”
The issue surrounding the project came to light when Willow Way resident Jan Bailey addressed Portsmouth City Council, saying she had heard Scioto Residential Services was going to put in a residential home and no one in her neighborhood had been consulted.
“I moved here (Willow Way), and I continue to live here because it’s family residences. No rentals around. They are single family residences,” Bailey said. “That’s what I signed up for. No one even told us.”
Bailey said she talked with someone at Scioto Residential Services by phone.
“She said, ‘you don’t have to find out when your neighbor moves in,’” Bailey said, quoting the employee. “This is different. It’s not like a family with three children with Down Syndrome moved in. I wouldn’t have a problem with that. This is a group home. I told a (Scioto County Board of Development Disability) member, ‘it’s not what you do, you do great work. It’s not that,’ it’s a stigma in a neighborhood if you go to sell your house. What I’m worried about, and what my neighbors are worried about that I have talked to and I’ve talked to several of them, it’s property value. We’re paying more in taxes. We have high mortgage payments. We’re sacrificing to live here, and now we’re going to lose on our property value or it’s even going to be harder to sell our house.”
Meade said creating residential homes for developmentally disabled clients is a common practice in the community, with several houses already being utilized.
“We have been around in Scioto County since (19)74,” Meade said.
Meade said the house is not going to be divided into apartments. It will be a single family-type dwelling.
“That area in the Fifth Ward is not zoned for commercial enterprises,” Meadows said. “So just to let the constituents in the Fifth Ward know, this is something I’m looking at. I’m very serious about it, but they also need to contact me, in addition to the ones who have already contacted me so we can make a united front. There are plenty of commercially zoned areas in the city that need business. If Scioto Residential Services desires to put another facility in the city, then use one of the commercially-zoned areas, and keep the Fifth Ward the residential area that it is.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.