Belpre committee considers a moratorium on addiction centers

A Belpre committee considers a moratorium on addiction centers.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 1:42 AM EDT
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BELPRE, Ohio (WTAP) - Belpre’s Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee met to consider putting in place a moratorium on the establishment of any addiction centers and sober living homes until an impact study is done.

WTAP has more from city officials as well as a recovery organization at the meeting.

According to Committee Chair Paul Wallace, that moratorium would last six months.

He said the moratorium would give officials more time to figure out what’s best for the city and its citizens.

“You know, get a little legislation going - see what other cities are doing, how it’s working out for them, talk to task force, police officers…,” he explained.

While he and some other committee members said they’ve gotten negative community feedback on a rehab facility planning to open in town, Wallace clarified that this moratorium isn’t specifically about that center. It’s about any facility looking to set up shop.

Plus it’s possible that the moratorium, if put in place, wouldn’t stop that rehab facility from opening.

Belpre Law Director Tom Webster said, “My gut reaction is that I think that there’s nothing that stops them, at this point, from what they’ve already done and keep them from opening.”

He pointed to the fact that the facility already filed for occupancy and that they can meet zoning rules.

Webster added that he’d need to look into it to get a clear answer.

The rehab facility planning to open in Belpre is Angel’s Harbor. It would have substance use outpatient services as well as a residential program. Owners said it will be an all female facility.

Owner Tim Craft pointed to their investment in the facility and said that they have to move forward with it for the sake of their business.

The owners of the facility said that the building has already been purchased.

Jim Homa, the director of operations for a company that runs Rockland Ridge, a nursing home nearby the facility, voiced concerns.

“I can’t say that the stigma doesn’t bother us a little bit because, you know, I was telling these folks earlier that I see it happening locally, where people don’t control the security piece and they start to affect other operations,” he said.

The owners of Angel’s Harbor responded to security concerns, saying that the facility would be staffed 24/7.

They said there will be one staff member per eight clients.

Tim Craft said, “And we have security systems. We have alarms on every window.”

Multiple other safety measures were described. For instance, prescription medications that clients take are tracked and locked up.

Owner Abby Craft added, “If they’re a danger to themselves or a danger to others, we would find them somewhere else that’s more like hospitalization. That’s something that we’re not equipped necessarily to handle.”

The Angel’s Harbor owners added that they take very few clients who are ordered to go by the court, which they say means most of their clients choose to be there on their own.

They also said that, over the course of a year, throughout all of their facilities, they’ve only had one non-medical incident in which law enforcement was called.

Belpre’s Police Chief Michael Stump added that the police would be involved with the Belpre facility to work out safety.

Stump also said that he asked dispatch for records on another Angel’s Harbor facility that operates mainly in Vincent but extends a little into Belpre. Those records show that law enforcement has only been dispatched there for medical calls and alarm calls. The facility in Vincent is transitional living.

Officials asked the Crafts about the medical calls the facility could bring in. Mayor Lorentz said that the Dunham squad told him that they’ve made multiple runs to a nearby Angel’s Harbor facility.

The Crafts clarified that none of the calls were drug-related and that there was a period of time in which a handful of clients “felt like they needed a squad every time something happened and, by law, obviously - if they say they have a medical emergency, we can’t deny them that squad.”

They added that those clients are no longer there and that they were all medical calls.

The Crafts also said that they believe this facility being closer to the emergency room will decrease EMS calls.

At a recent city council meeting, multiple people spoke out in support of Angel’s Harbor and the Crafts discussed other concerns the community may have about the facility they plan on opening in Belpre. For more on that, click the link below.