Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Protests aired over teen home

Harveysburg residents cite licensing

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HARVEYSBURG — Residents filled Village Council chambers to overflowing Monday night, demanding that the village take action against a program for troubled teen-agers that's operating in a single-family neighborhood.

        Arizona-based Teen Reach has been in Harveysburg since March, housing up to 14 teen-agers in a house on Loraine Avenue, according to the state fire marshal's office.

        “We don't know what they are,” said neighbor Michele Cochran. “If they're a boarding house, they're not allowed in an R-1 residential district. If they're a church, they need to have a 50-foot setback, which they don't. If they're a group home, they have to be licensed by the state of Ohio, which they're not.”

        Council unanimously passed an ordinance July 3 declaring the Loraine Avenue house in violation of the village zoning code on two counts: It didn't have an occupancy permit and it was a group home.

        However, village officials never took action to enforce the ordinance, and Mayor Perry Shepard told residents Monday night that the village is going to wait for the state fire marshal's office to complete its investigation into fire code violations before proceeding.

        New council member Margie Caudell spoke in defense of Teen Reach: “Why are you so against these children who are troubled? They are not all bad kids.”

        Teen Reach also is under investigation by the state Department of Education for not having a charter for its school, and by the Department of Job and Family Services for not being licensed as a group home.

        Teen Reach says it does not consider itself a group home and has refused to let Family Services investigators in the house.

        “If you want to set a good example for these kids, shouldn't one thing be that you follow the law?” resident Mary Ann Bourne asked council. “I'm all for helping them, but you have to do it the right way.”


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