Westerville Planning Commission OKs conditional use for detox, residential treatment facility

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
The Westerville Planning Commission approved a conditional-use request April 28 to establish a facility for the treatment of substance abuse in a 22,446-square-foot building at the southwest corner of Huber Village Boulevard and Eastwind Drive.

A detoxification and short-term residential substance-use-disorder treatment facility managed and operated by Seacrest Recovery Center Detox of Ohio LLC is on track to open in Westerville.

Although neighboring residents expressed opposition to the facility going into a 22,446-square-foot building at the southwest corner of Huber Village Boulevard and Eastwind Drive at 737-833 Eastwind Drive, the Westerville Planning Commission approved the conditional use April 28, contingent on many conditions. 

The commission's vote was 5-1, with Paul Johnson, Steven Munger, Craig Treneff, Brian Schaefer and Kimberly Sharp voting yes and Dave Samuelson dissenting. Commission member Kristine Robbins was absent.

Jared Silver, Seacrest chief operating officer, previously told the commission about 70% of Seacrest’s patients are battling drug addiction and 30% are addicted to alcohol. 

Jeff Buehler, a Westerville city planner, said the application first was heard in February, when it was tabled.

He said substantial discussion has occurred among staff, the law director and police since that meeting.

Buehler said the city received 11 emails in opposition to the use because of concerns about safety and property values. 

A letter was provided to the commission by Robert J. Weiler, who’s chairman of the board for the Robert Weiler Co. He said he has experience in real estate valuation and appraisals and that he inspected the property April 25 to determine whether the proposed use by Seacrest Recovery Center would be detrimental to existing and future neighboring uses, property values or the economic welfare of the community.

“It is my professional opinion that the proposed use at the property will not be detrimental to existing and future neighboring uses, property values or the economic welfare of the community,” Weiler wrote.

During the public-hearing portion of the meeting, however, John Powell, a real estate agent with ties to Westerville, said it “just isn’t so” that the facility wouldn't affect real estate values.

“The facilities attract an element we don’t want in Westerville,” Powell said. “Pointview Elementary (School) is right down the street. There’s a day care beside it.”

He said he’d like to see a vocational education center go into the Eastwind complex instead.

“That’s what I’d like, not drug rehab,” Powell said. “This just isn’t the right place.”

Since February, Buehler said, the city has more clarity on the proposed use, and the applicant has agreed to accept certain conditions. 

It’s Seacrest’s mission to provide quality, effective and individualized treatment programs to those struggling with addiction in the form of affordable outpatient and intensive inpatient services, according to the application. For the detoxification component, the typical client would stay an average of three days and a maximum of seven days, the application states.

For the residential component, it’s anticipated the average stay would be two weeks, with a maximum of four weeks. 

The center would serve both male and female clients, who would be separated in different wings of the facility. 

At full capacity, the center would be able to house 18 male and 18 female clients for a total of 36.

It would have a total of 20 to 25 employees, Silver said. The staff would include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, behavioral technicians and kitchen and other support staff. 

Treneff said private property owners have a right to use their property, and it’s the commission’s job to review and respond to the application. He said the user is willing to accept strict conditions.

Samuelson asked why this location was chosen and why not somewhere else. 

Applicant Bryan Hunt, legal counsel for property owner SRC Properties Ohio LLC, said his client hadn’t been advised that this wasn’t the proper place. 

Samuelson also asked how much police action would be acceptable at the facility. 

The conditional-use permit could be revoked if police are asked to respond more than 12 times a year. Initially, the proposal was more than 72 times a year.

Other grounds for revocation include the facility causing or creating a condition or conditions that endanger neighborhood safety.

Among many other conditions, Seacrest also agrees not to accept court-ordered clients or clients from a court diversion program.  

In addition to planning approval, Buehler said, the facility would require a building-code compliance review before an occupancy permit could be granted. 

Seacrest expects the entire facilities to be gutted and renovated internally, according to the application.

Buehler said the applicant also has to obtain state licensure under the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for its facility prior to opening.

The commission is the deciding body, and City Council approval is not required; however, city codes provide for the ability to appeal the decision.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla