January 18, 2013

Pryor Council discusses rehab house ordinance

January 18, 2013 Staff Writer Cydney Baron

It was a full house at Tuesday’s Pryor City Council meeting as people came in from the cold to discuss a consent agenda full of expenditures.

The big ticket item, however, was the ordinance regarding Special Residential Housing Facilities.

City attorney, Kim Ritchie, read through the ordinance in its entirety as it was the first reading before the council.

“Since this is a first reading, I’ll give people time to speak. Otherwise I’ll turn it over to the council,” said Mayor Jimmy Tramel.

The general description outlined in the ordinance says, “A facility for the housing, rehabilitation, training of persons on probation parole or early release from correctional institutions, or persons found guilty or no contest of criminal offenses.”

Outside the meeting, Councilman Greg Rosamond explained the issue further.

“Part of the problem right now is that these facilities are not required to disclose their existence. That means even the police department could be unaware of a drug treatment facility in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” said Rosamond. “This is a large concern for citizens.”

“It is my understanding there are at least a couple treatment facilities in town right now,” said Rosamond. “Since they already exist, it is my belief, they would be grandfathered in and would not have to immediately comply with the proposed new ordinance.”

Councilmen Drew Stott presented the first question. He wanted clarification on the two-year stipulation.

The ordinance says, “Each permit shall bear the signature of the building inspector and shall be valid for a two (2) year period immediately following issuance of permit.”

“Does anyone want to risk the expense of doing it, not knowing if they’ll be able to renew?” said Stott.

Tramel explained this stipulation was included because it was present in the ordinances written in the towns he researched.

When Stott questioned the ordinance committee’s decision on the issue, Councilman Travis Noland said the ordinance committee discussed it, but took no action.

 “The treatment of alcoholic, narcotic, battered, or psychiatric problems is allowed under this use but not the combination thereof.

“My understanding is that a lot of these facilities cover several things. This is saying, for example, it could be set up for either drug offenders or sex offenders but not both. Is that correct?,” said Councilmen Greg Rosamond.

On the same issue, Councilman Roger Willcutt asked how the facilities will be staffed if they are only treating one specific group. The mayor answered that in all his research, the facilities were separated, and the staff would have training in the appropriate field.

A question from Tim Bonea, who was in the audience, sparked discussion on whether the ordinance specified drug court, and if it applied to volunteer rehabilitation or court ordered rehabilitation.

“I understand this to mean that it only covers court ordered tenants, not volunteer rehabilitation,” said Rosamond.

“That’s not the way I read it,” said Tramel.

“If someone wanted to open a drug rehab next to my house, this doesn’t cover that, right?” said Stott.

“If that’s what people would like to see in there, we can put it in there,” said Tramel.

Rosamond’s explanation summarized that the main objectives of the ordinance are to locate these facilities out of residential neighborhoods, and to allow for some sort of disclosure, at least to law enforcement, of their existence. However, it is his understanding that the city cannot enforce an amended code on an existing establishment, therefore the legislation would only apply to future facilities

The city agreed to let Ritchie correct and clarify everything mentioned before the council takes any action. The council will continue its discussion at the next meeting.

In the Mayor’s Report the council took no action toward approving the community Building/ Council Chamber Rules and regulations.

The council chose to separate four items from the consent agenda. The first of these was a resolution they passed in two parts approving the expenditure of $2,2,539.37 to J.T. Mechanical for repairs to the pool heater at Pryor Creek Rec Center from the Aquatic Repair Maintenance Account and declare an emergency.

“I will say that when we shut down the pool in December for maintenance, a lot of things happen and it’s a nightmare to get up and running again. People complain, but you can’t please everyone. But Tracy does a great job, I really appreciate her,” said Tramel.

The council discussed seeking applications for Building Inspector/ Code Officer position for the city of Pryor.

“Did you say you were going to change it to require at least three licenses?” said Stott.  To which the mayor said yes. The council voted to approve the resolution.

The third item pulled from the consent agenda was an expenditure of $5,000 from Planning and Zoning- Outside Services Consultant to Jerry Epperly for Low-Moderate Income Study and Mapping for the City of Pryor five year map. These studies gather the incomes of a certain number of houses in a designated area. The information is used in grant applications.

“This we passed last year for Jerry to do an LMI study, from Highway 20 north to 69 east. Our survey shows that’s the only area that will qualify right now,” said Tramel. “We’re applying for sidewalks for these areas.”

“I talked to Jerry, he thought a larger area might qualify,” said Stott. “He said that he has 400 now.”

“According to the census I have, that’s the only area that qualifies, but if he thinks we can get more done I’m for it,” said Tramel. “They’ll randomly select the 400 houses and go from there.”

Tramel explained that the deadline to apply for the grant is in April or May. The council requested the wording of the resolution be changed to read “not to exceed $5,000.”

The councilmen all voted yes.

 

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