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Planned Lorain rehab center gets conditional-use permit

  • Friedel-Soccer-to-Close-1-jpg

    Plans are being made to turn the former Premier Soccer Academy into a rehabilitation center.



LORAIN — A high-end drug and alcohol rehabilitation center overcame a major hurdle Wednesday when the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved the conditional use permit required for work to begin.

At the meeting, Mike Cloud, a civil engineer with Sheffield Lake-based North Coast Design Build, said the building, that sits on All Pro Athletic Avenue off of Leavitt Road near Lighthouse Village, was originally constructed as a dormitory and training center for athletics — Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academy.

“The concept is to renovate the interior of the facility, replace and improve the landscaping all around the building, create an outdoor activity space and resurface the parking lot and drives to create a 40-bed addiction recovery center with an all-male population,” he said, noting Lorain-based Sprenger Health Care would operate the facility.

Cloud said this is “Phase I” of the project. “Phase II” would involve constructing an addition on the property to hold 29 beds for an all-female population.

Cloud also said residents of the facility, who would be staying there on a voluntary basis, would stay on-site 24 hours a day and staff also would be on-site 24 hours a day. Programming would be centered on health, wellness and addiction therapy.

“It will serve those affected by the addiction epidemic, which has significantly affected Ohio and Lorain County,” he said. “We intend for this to be a well-run, reasonably high-end facility to treat people who are there of their own choice. We feel it’s a pretty appropriate location.”

However, several people who have homes abuting the property spoke against the facility opening near their backyards and next to the sports complex on All Pro Athletic Avenue, which has a field house and two fields — one turf and one grass.

Resident Cori Sauvey said when she told her 9-year-old son what was going into the former soccer complex, he said it was “the worst idea he’s ever heard” and she agrees with him.

“Nobody will knowingly buy our homes if they are up for sale with a rehab facility behind them,” she said. “I do understand that there’s a need for these types of facilities in the city, but I feel as though there other places in the city that would suit this need.”

Resident Robert Watchorn said he also has concerns about property values in the area and noted that while he also knows such facilities are necessary that he had security concerns as well.

“I think if there were going to be other security measures in place, I think many of us who reside there would be more appreciative and accepting,” he said. “I personally have three young daughters and I think there if was any type of buffering or a privacy fence we might be more apt.”

City Councilman Josh Thornsberry, D-8th Ward, said a few Council members who weren’t able to be at the meeting discussed the idea of a privacy fence with him and it was his primary reason for attending.

Thornsberry said while the facility isn’t in his ward, he goes to the sports facility frequently and in addition to discussing a way to buffer the facility from the sports complex, he also wanted to see if there was a way to mitigate any parking or traffic concerns.

Cloud said one of the complex’s two soccer fields — the grass one — butts up against the facility and would act as a buffer but the company also would be willing to install some sort of privacy fence, both for neighbors and for residents of the facility.

“There’s the perception that someone who receives treatment for alcohol and drug issues that they’re a criminal or a child molester, but as I mentioned this facility is there to serve people on the more high-end side,” he said. “They’re not out wandering the streets. I’m sure they’d be open to additional fencing and screening, but I think the perception of this facility is a little off base.”

While no one from the operational arm of the facility attending the meeting, Safety-Service Director Dan Given said he had heard the facility would cost in the neighborhood of $30,000 a month.

Cloud said he wasn’t unsympathetic to residents in the area, but noted they chose to buy their homes there knowing there was business zoning behind them and “there’s some acceptance you have that a building may be built there.”

The measure was approved with a 3-0 vote and one abstention on the condition that a privacy fence, which can be no higher than seven feet, be added to the plans.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or Follow her on Twitter @KatieHNix.

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