Parkersburg City Council passes treatment facility and group home ordinances | News, Sports, Jobs


Parkersburg City Council members and administration discussed an ordinance regulating group homes during Tuesday’s council meeting in this screenshot from the town meeting’s YouTube stream. (Screenshot)

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg City Council on Tuesday approved the final reading of a pair of ordinances governing the location of residential drug treatment facilities and group homes.

But Lori Waller of Disability Rights of West Virginia warned city officials that the rules on group homes for people with disabilities could be challenged in court.

“You want to plead that? We are happy to plead this,” she said in the public forum at Tuesday’s council meeting. “You cannot discriminate on the basis of a disability. A disability is part of life.

The order prohibits a group home occupied by people with developmental or behavioral disabilities from being within 1,500 feet of another such facility, limits residents (excluding staff) to 12 or one per 200 square feet of living space and requires that they be registered and receive zoning confirmation. before receiving a certificate of occupancy. Other measures prohibit exterior modifications to the residential character of the facility and require it to meet National Association for Recovery Residences standards, where applicable.

Mayor Tom Joyce said the intent of the legislation was to seek out landlords in neighborhoods where facilities are located while ensuring they meet certain standards for facility residents themselves.

Councilwoman Wendy Tuck questioned City Attorney Blaine Myers about concerns raised by groups like Disability Rights, a federally mandated nonprofit advocacy group.

“They have a legitimate point of view, and I think you should consider what they have to say,” said Myers. “They are not the final arbiters of the law.”

Myers said the city’s legislation was drafted after searching for ordinances in the books of different parts of the country. While he said he would never guarantee anything would withstand a possible legal challenge, he said some of those orders remain in effect after undergoing legal review.

“Many communities across the country have passed ordinances on the same subject and they are still in effect and in effect,” said Myers.

The city recognizes its obligations to protect the rights of people with disabilities, Myers said. The ordinance includes a process by which an appeal can be made if a provision is believed to inadvertently result in discrimination, he said.

“There are certainly circumstances in which we may not be able to anticipate all of the factual circumstances that will arise,” said Myers.

The ordinance passed 7-1, with Tuck opposed and Councilman Jesse Cottrille absent. The same was true for the ordinance regulating the location of residential treatment facilities.

An ordinance formally adding the Pledge of Allegiance to the council’s agenda failed in a 4-4 tie.

For several years, the promise and the Lord’s Prayer had been said before meetings were called, after the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation challenged the recitation of the prayer at meetings. The group then sued on behalf of two Parkersburg residents, and a federal judge recently ruled that the prayer practice could not continue because it was a Christian-only invocation led by council members.

Councilor Sharon Kuhl said she co-sponsored the ordinance so the pledge would be a formal part of council meetings.

“Until someone sues us for this, we can always say that,” she says.

Councilman Mike Reynolds said the prayer and pledge was a tradition, but he felt council shouldn’t make the pledge part of the meeting.

“I feel like we’re here to do the job of the city of Parkersburg,” he said. “There’s really no place for that in our meeting, I don’t feel it.”

Kuhl said the pledge reminds him of the people who fought and died for American freedoms and how the country was founded as “One nation under God.”

Council Chairman Zach Stanley said he felt the resolution was “more for show.” Members take an oath to support the Constitution when they are sworn in, he said.

“I don’t need to take the Pledge of Allegiance to know that I’m going to work hard for everyone in this room, to try to do what’s right for the city,” he said.

Stanley, Reynolds and councilors JR Carpenter and Austin Richards voted against the resolution, while Kuhl, Tuck and councilors Bob Mercer and Chris Rexroad voted in favour.




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