GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Commissioners on Thursday attempted to address concerns about the potential annexation of property involving a group home in Rio Grande
A group home for developmentally disabled adults went live with its services nearly three weeks ago, finally seeing residents moving in. ResCare, one of the the nation’s largest private providers of services for disabled people, owns the facility. The building has been the center of much community controversy within the last year. The facility is seeking to become part of Rio Grande but has encountered some difficulties.
The facility in question is stationed on Cherry Ridge Road near the village municipality border and is contiguous with existing village property.
Rio Grande village council members approved the move for the ResCare facility to become part of the village municipality in August 2014. Raccoon Township trustees voted against the annexation of the facility property the following month.
The recent public hearing on the matter with the commission was to discuss the potential of county commissioners overriding the trustee vote in order to allow for the annexation of the property into the village.
“The municipality of Rio Grande is here in support today. They have agreed to provide services. We believe it’s only fair that they be reimbursed for those services,” Andrew Noe, representative for ResCare, said. “The village will be able to get income (in the form of taxes) from employees that work at the facility. We feel the village should be reimbursed for what it’s doing for ResCare by providing water and sewer.”
Noe said Raccoon Township lost nothing from the property being annexed for its small size. He said the village had much to gain from the annexation.
“I would like to note that this isn’t the first rodeo for the village doing an annexation,” Matt Easter, mayor of Rio Grande, said. “We’ve had several annexations done before and have not had one negative vote by the (township) trustees.”
Pat Canaday, a concerned citizen, of Cherry Ridge Road near the ResCare facility, stated his concern with the building. He said the building is too close to the road. He also said he does not approve of ResCare and called their reputation into question. He added that he fears the company will take business from local organizations that already support developmentally disabled individuals’ needs.
“There were lots of people against the annexation and building the building to begin with,” Canaday said. “My biggest question to you (the commission) is, ‘How come we’re here?’ The (Raccoon Township) trustees said no. You have the power to stop that?”
David Smith, Gallia County Commissioner, referred Canaday to Ohio Revised Code 709.032. He noted that within the code, the commission must determine that an area to be annexed was not too large and would be beneficial to the municipality seeking to acquire it. Petitioners — in this case ResCare representatives — can approach the commission with a desire to seek annexation after having followed all legal proceedings and requirements.
“This is what I will consider when I make my decision. What you (Canaday) bring up are other legitimate points and I have been out to the Gallipolis Developmental Center and we have tried to maintain things there. But when it’s all said and done, that is not what I will consider when I vote in this particular action,” Smith said. “I will focus on this section in the code.”
Easter noted that it was his job as mayor to make a town grow economically. He said ResCare approached him with the wish to help accomplish that.
Raccoon Township trustees did not appear at the hearing.
“I’ve got copies of police reports from when ResCare was in Gallipolis. There was an attempted rape,” one woman in the hearing said. “That’s what scares me. I’ve got grandchildren that live across the street. That’s the only reason I’m upset. They’ve been there a few weeks and so far there’s been nothing, but you don’t know what happens later. That’s what I worry about … what could happen.”
County commissioners said that they would not make a decision at the hearing but would consider it over the course of the next 90 days.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.