TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - An emergency meeting of the Northwood Planning Committee was held this evening to review the definition of "residential" zoning. But why is the verbiage is so urgent and what's been decided?
This emergency meeting was fueled by the sale of a property on the 4500 block of Curtice Road. The site is zoned residential, however, it has been bought by the Zepf Center, an organization that deals with treatment for mental health, specifically, addiction.
The meeting space in Northwood Monday night was filled past capacity, and many came to voice their concerns both for and against a treatment facility
moving in. No one from the Zepf Center showed up.
"As it currently is proposed is that it would not fit into a rural, residential neighborhood, but like I said, we don't have an actual definition or a site plan or a proposal of what exactly is going in on this Curtice Road property," Mayor Edward Schimmel explained. "The property that we're discussing would not fit into what we believe is going to be going there as it's currently zoned. This update to the zoning code just makes it so we're a little more stringent about what is allowed under the definition of a residential property."
The Planning Committee voted to add that "residential" designation does not include drug and alcohol recovery housing.
Many of those at the meeting were largely concerned about addicts potentially relapsing in this neighborhood. A lot of those who got up to speak are all too familiar with the crisis of addiction, but their opinions on how and where to deal with it vary.
John Clemons lost his son to addiction recently and is an advocate for not just treatment, but the way law enforcement handles drug dealers in Wood County. He is positive this facility would be a good thing.
"We've got to start somewhere. We can't keep on kicking the can down the road, because 179 U.S. Citizens die every day from opioid and heroin abuse," said Clemons.
There was a resounding agreement among those present regardless of how they felt about this particular location; treatment facilities do have a place in our community.
There are other sites in Northwood that are already zoned multi-family, outside of this single-family neighborhood.
Dan Mikolajczyk is a member of the City Council, and a longtime Northwood resident. He has seen family members face the demons of addiction, but is left with a lot of questions.
"We know there's a need but there's a place for it too. You know, it just, it's like putting a factory, you don't put a factory in a residential neighborhood, you know. Like they discussed tonight over here, we do have places it could go, but we have to start a dialogue with the Zepf Center," Mikolajczyk said.
There was a lot of discussion about tabling the issue until more information could be gathered, but that was turned down.
Ultimately, the proposed change in the wording of the code is stricter than it had been, but, as the mayor said, as of now no site plan or a proposal has been presented, and little information has come forth from the new property owner.
The rural residential designation is why many neighbors said they moved to the area. Those who have put money into their properties are now asking, what might this presence do to their property values?
After the meeting, the debate continued in the halls of 6000 Wales Road about the potential for small children having to face the consequences of addiction while at their homes. Heated discussions on this topic are likely to go on as long as so much of what could happen is unknown.
Discussions about treatment facility placement have been going on for some time in the City of Toledo, and the Toledo area has become a known
region for addicts to seek treatment.
Many success stories have come out of such treatment, including one woman who spoke tonight advocating for lessening the stigma of worst case scenarios that she says are few and far between.