Xenia places 6-month moratorium on new addiction treatment facilities

XENIA — The city of Xenia has placed a moratorium on new addiction treatment facilities pending reviews to its zoning code, after the city fielded permit requests for additional drug treatment facilities within city limits.

The six-month moratorium would ban new drug and mental health facilities from beginning operations within the city, while officials determine appropriate zoning for the facilities in order to protect residential and commercial neighborhoods from “negative secondary effects,” per city documents. Council passed the temporary ban last week.

County seats like Xenia are often viewed as ideal locations for drug treatment facilities given their proximity to government social services, City Manager Brent Merriman told council. Xenia already has at least six drug treatment facilities within city limits, and the city has since fielded requests for permits to establish new ones.

Last month, the Xenia Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a permit request filed by L&L Diversified Development to build a 65-bed drug and alcohol detox and rehabilitation center on the site of a former nursing home on North Monroe Drive after community backlash. Many residents cited DeCoach Rehabilitation Center in downtown Xenia, which has been the subject of several complaints from residents and businesses about groups of between 30 and 40 at a time taking smoking breaks in front of other businesses in the downtown area.

“A lot of folks said, ‘Man we’ve got six treatment centers in our downtown area already. Do we really need another one?’” said Councilman Will Urschel, speaking to complaints received by the city. “Visually, it’s just a bad look on downtown. We had a lot of comments from folks saying, ‘I’m trying to walk by here, there’s big crews of people and they’re asking me for change.’”

Changes to the zoning code may include requiring new facilities to provide plans for outdoor spaces, as well as more rigorous requirements for residential programs within the city, Urschel said. The city is also looking into working with other jurisdictions to gain a broad look at where such facilities are best placed.

“It puts a burden on our community. It just does. It’s not that we’re opposed to drug treatment, but do we need to be shipping all the people from Fairborn over to Xenia for this all the time?” Urschel said.

Presently the city’s zoning code places drug treatment centers in the same category as medical offices and nursing homes. They are categorized as commercial under conditional use, meaning they can be near residentially zoned parts of the city, but must be approved before they can begin operation.

“There is no attempt here by staff, and I think speaking on behalf of council, to limit the ability of these service operations in our community. They are essential,” Merriman told council. “We are simply trying to determine where is the best location in our community that would minimize adverse effects to residents.”

A public hearing will be held on the moratorium at the next city council meeting, Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. at Xenia City Hall.

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