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Miami Twp. vote to allow group home could prompt court action

A Miami Twp. board eased regulations and approved a plan that will allow a group home for young males to open in a quiet residential neighborhood.

The vote to allow Safe Ward Inc. to operate the facility at 2600 Eckley Boulevard east of Ohio 741 — fewer than 1,500 feet from a similar site — has residents who oppose the move considering court action.

The township’s board of zoning appeals granted Safe Ward officials’ request for an exception to requirements, as operators of the proposed facility for males 12 to 17 years old is a “unique” situation.

RELATED: Miami Twp. to allow group home for young males

Officials say it is 1,310 feet away from a Brahms Boulevard adult group home. That’s about 200 feet closer than township requirements for granting the conditional use sought by Safe Ward.

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But the appeals board “may reduce the requirement,” said Miami Twp. Planner Alex Carlson.

The Brahms site opened in 2005 and “was not issued a conditional use,” Carlson said, because it “was not required. It was just (recognized) as a permitted use.”

Safe Ward officials said the Brahms site “was and still is not being held to the same standards that the group home we’re seeking to do would be.”

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“The facility in question is actually an adult home which houses up to four,” said Safe Ward co-operator Rachica Ward, “whereas the group home we’re seeking to do in the community houses up to six at any given time. It would technically be the first one in the community for children.”

The BZA agreed.

Board member Fred Sinder said Safe Ward’s proposal has “the unique position in that it will be the first permitted child (rearing) facility in the township. And, therefore, it will not contribute to the (concentration) of such facilities.”

Miami Twp. approval of the conditional use – for which the BZA is the final say — is required for the 2-year-old non-profit corporation to receive a state license for the site, officials said.

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Opposition to the board’s decision must be filed in Montgomery County court, according to the township. An appeal has to be filed within 45 days of the hearing, according to the BZA.

Legal action is a serious option, according to residents who have questioned the issue since it was proposed this spring.

“The rules were there,” Jeff Smith said. “We have to abide by the rules as far as what the limits are. Why didn’t they? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Smith was among the nearly 30 residents that Safe Ward’s proposal drew to the vote Tuesday night. Questions about how the facility will affect the neighborhood are among the issues for residents.

Ward said she and Rakesha Holmes would be administrators at a site that would “provide both long- and short-term care, and the ultimate goal of the facility would be to reunite the children with their families if possible,” township records show.

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The home would have full- and part-time caregivers working both day and night shifts, records show. They would use a current bedroom and would not be permitted to sleep on duty, according to records.

Residents at the home would not have driving privileges, and they may be placed in the facility from other Ohio cities and perhaps from other states, according to records.

Holmes said she “could not guarantee” residents would not have a criminal background. She said the home would be operated in “such a way that it would not change the current environment of the neighborhood and that the children would be busy with planned activities and school,” according to township records.

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