Rehab center rezoning removed from City Council agenda

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published April 18, 2015

HARPER WOODS — During a meeting last month, the Planning Commission recommended denial of Eastwood Clinics’ plan to open a treatment facility for substance abuse patients in the city, and the commission might have the final word.

The recommendation to deny came in front of the City Council on April 6, but the council removed it from consideration without taking a vote on the proposal.

There is some debate over whether it is appropriate for the council to take action.

“It was my belief under the zoning ordinance that this was not required to come before council, because the Planning Commission had denied this,” City Manager Randolph Skotarczyk said. “Our planner, who helped write the zoning ordinance, believed that it should come forward, and then today, our city attorney pointed out a few additional problems with it.

“I think this needs more thought and more consideration, especially between myself and the city attorney, and then if it needs to come before council, I will put it in the appropriate format,” he said.

The clinics, which are affiliated with St. John Providence Health System, did not meet some of the zoning criteria needed to open the facility on the proposed site. After a lengthy discussion that included a presentation from project planners and residential feedback, the Planning Commission voted unanimously March 25 to recommend that the City Council deny the request to rezone the property at 19851 Anita St. from R-1, which is single-family housing, to R-2 to allow the inpatient treatment facility.

The Planning Commission meeting drew a large crowd of residents who live near the proposed rezoning. There were many comments in opposition to the plan for a rehab facility in the neighborhood.

At the April 6 council meeting, Anita Street resident Tiffany Mitchell asked for clarification about why the council couldn’t vote to deny it. Skotarczyk said they wanted to make sure they have done everything appropriately in this matter and reiterated that he didn’t think any other vote was necessary after the Planning Commission’s decision to deny.

“That makes me happy,” she said.

Even though council didn’t vote on the matter, Mayor Ken Poynter did make a comment during the meeting.

“We have to say that the commission made a very thoughtful decision,” Poynter said.