Marietta needs to do the right thing with Oriana

Marietta City Council and Law Director need to do their jobs and write zoning rules that can be understood without court battles. Even the city staff may have misunderstood the rules when they granted the occupancy permit for the Women’s Home to Oriana House.

If Oriana House were to request a special use permit and Marietta were to deny it, a federal case might be made that the city is discriminating in housing for disabled persons, a protected class. Council and the Law Director should be familiar with this issue from their experience with 812 Fifth (sic) Street.

Notwithstanding the ongoing state court proceedings, pursuant to the federal Fair Housing Act, Marietta should make a reasonable accommodation in the application of its zoning requirements and grant a special use permit to Oriana House as a reasonable accommodation, since the city’s zoning code allows as a special use several types of facilities which provide housing for persons with disabilities.

If Oriana House leaves the city, they will take 19 full-time, good paying jobs with them along with the city income taxes and other taxes they would have paid and leave the Women’s Home vacant and potentially subject to becoming blight. The city and county would lose a professional residential treatment facility which they desperately need. Oriana House has been and promises to continue being a good neighbor and productive corporate citizen.

It is never too late to do the right thing. The Law Director and Council should either grant the reasonable accommodation and special use permit now or explain to city residents why not.

James L. Raney



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