Council files injunction against Oriana House

City Law Director Paul Bertram notified Marietta City Council that an injunction against Oriana House Inc. was filed Thursday.

“This asks the court to determine whether or not Oriana must go to the planning commission,” Bertram explained after the regular business meeting.

He said after council gave authorization on March 21 for his office to file the injunction, talks reopened with the private nonprofit based in Northeast Ohio which provides addiction treatment services, which have resulted in stipulations (agreements) to facts surrounding the permitting and certification process within city codes.

Oriana is in the process of purchasing the former Woman’s Home at 812 Third St. following an arrangement with the Washington County Behavioral Health Board to operate a residential treatment center in Washington County for five years at a rate of $5,000 per month.

The injunction asks the court to decide if Oriana must review its intentions with the city planning commission since it identifies its intended use with one of the exceptions requiring a special use permit under city zoning codes.

“And we have outlined a general timeline for motions and responses within the court,” explained the law director. “Now we wait to see if the case will be reassigned to another judge.”

Currently the case, 19OT101 is filed under Washington County Common Pleas Judge Mark Kerenyi, who is likely to recuse himself as he is currently in a contract with Oriana House for the drug court program.

The case does not stop the sale of the Woman’s Home to Oriana for the Rigel Recovery Residential Center, it merely acts as a stay of additional preparation of the property for residential care.

Councilman Geoff Schenkel also reported to the legislative body that he recently accompanied representatives from Oriana House to a meeting with the St. Mary’s Catholic School principal.

“I met with Molly Frye (St. Mary’s), Candace Jeffers (clinical coordinator) and Christa Holman (manager) and they (Holman and Jeffers) said to Molly that they would not admit patients until Molly could put in place security measures like cameras,” said Schenkel.

Bertram said he anticipates parents of students at St. Mary’s to add to the civil injunction an intervention as an interested party, potentially asking a judge to determine whether or not residential treatment can occur within 500 feet of the school’s property.

Technology grant

Council also heard positive news and updates from Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar Welch.

She notified council of the most recent receipt of a new technology grant from the Supreme Court of Ohio for $106,914.30, the fourth time she has been successful in technology grant funding from the state.

“I do try to apply for those which I believe to be helpful in serving the community through the courts,” Welch explained.

She said the grant is the largest the court has received of four awards.

“Across the state, $2.9 million in grant funds was awarded,” Welch explained. “The average grant was for $70,000. I’m very pleased we got a grant of this size.”

She said plans for the technology grants include upgrades to the case management system in the court, integrating paper on demand, e-filing, e-scheduling and a scrolling television schedule in the lobby of the court.

“But most exciting, and I’ve done a bit of research on this, is the texting module we’re also getting,” Welch said. “It’s been shown that the use of text notifications can reduce the failure to appear rate by 20 percent… I get a text from my dentist reminding me of my appointments, I get a text from my doctor, now you can get one from me.”

The grant will also go in part to necessary server upgrades for computers of the court.

Other business

During regular business, the legislative body authorized the engineering design for coming summer work at the intersection of Pike Street and County House Lane.

The project will be administered and paid for by Ohio Department of Transportation funds.

The first portion of the project, council blessed Thursday with authorization of an engineering and design study performed by TEC Engineering for planning upgrades to pedestrian safety and updates to the lighting at the intersection.

“We’re hiring TEC to do the engineering because they have the experience in pedestrian safety engineering that our engineering department does not have,” explained Councilwoman Kathy Downer.

Councilwoman Cassidi Shoaf noted that the improvements were previously identified as needs through a traffic timing study.

Council authorized the engineering cost not to exceed $6,310, Thursday.

The legislative body also authorized the purchase of a skid steer for the public facilities department to clean the River Trail for $55,587 and a new floating aquatic feature for $10,010 to be added to the city aquatic center this summer season.


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