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Oriana House Inc. files appeal to injunction

Oriana House Inc., a nonprofit addiction recovery organization with Northeast Ohio roots and several footholds locally, filed an appeal this week to the injunction for its Third Street facility in Marietta.

Last month, Appointed Judge John Solovan ruled that if Oriana House wished to continue residential addiction treatment, it would be required to appear before the city’s planning commission and obtain a special-use permit.

Without compliance, he ordered, the nonprofit must vacate 812 Third St. by Nov. 10.

Bernie Rochford, vice president of the nonprofit, reported Thursday the organization filed both a notice of appeal to the Fourth District Court of Appeals and a request for a stay of execution of the injunction to Solovan.

“There is case law that shows if you go before the planning commission, following the judge’s order, you waive your right to appeal the ruling,” said Rochford. “We don’t want to go down that road.”

The alternative path that was open to Oriana House by Solovan’s ruling included:

¯ Accepting the judge’s order and concede a mistake in skipping the initial application for a special-use permit.

¯ Then, applying for a special-use permit through the engineering department to the city planning commission. (Potential scheduling between Oct. 16 and Nov. 6)

¯ Then before the planning commission, making a case for how granting the special use is not only allowed within the spirit of R-2 zoning but may best fit the city’s mantra to bolster the public peace, health and safety.

Instead, the nonprofit and the board of the Woman’s Home, which currently owns 812 Third St. and is under contract to sell the property to Oriana House, Inc., chose the route of the courts.

Rochford said Thursday, if both Solovan and the Fourth District Court of Appeals chose to deny the stay of the injunction, the nonprofit would pull out of residential treatment in Marietta.

“We’d have to shut the program down,” he said. “We were hoping if we won the suit, we could start marketing the program more than word-of-mouth.”

He said to-date in the last seven months the facility has operated as residential treatment through an agreement with the Woman’s Home board, that approximately 30 patients have lived in the house and received services.

The appeal notes the facility began accepting residents in March 2019 and has operated “without incident for the past seven months.”

“It is anticipated that Oriana House would be able to help approximately 170 additional residents over the next year if the facility remained open,” writes Stephen Funk, the attorney representing both Oriana House and the Woman’s Home board in the civil lawsuit the city brought against the nonprofits. “If this residential facility were closed, then all of the current residents would have to leave the facility, and Oriana House would be forced to lay off the 19 full-time employees who presently work at the facility.”

While the city’s counsel in the case, Law Director Paul Bertram, did not return calls for comment Thursday, Marietta City Councilman Geoff Schenkel, who has worked closely with Oriana House, the Washington County Behavioral Health Board, Woman’s Home board and St. Mary’s School (tangentially affected by the location) on the issue was not pleased with the filing.

“It’s unfortunate that they’re going there,” he said when notified of the appeal. “To me that sounds like quitting. It sounds like a cop-out. We’re not telling you not to do the work, we’re not telling you you’re not wanted. The judge told you to follow the rules.”

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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