Upper Sandusky City Council approved a controversial special-use permit Monday night to allow a single-family home at 445 N. Sandusky Ave. to be used as a place for supervised visits and exchanges between biological parents and their children who have been removed from their homes. The site also will be used for parenting classes.
Social work student Misty Droll received the house as a gift from her mother Thelma Fox, for the project which Droll says is “her dream.”
“I’m calling it Hannah’s House, which is a visitation and exchange home for children that have come from domestic violence or abused homes that have been placed in foster care or the parents just can’t get along and they need someone to intervene and meet for a supervised exchange of one parent to another to keep them in a safe environment,” Droll said.
Droll said there is no such place in Wyandot County. Currently, Wyandot County parents are driving to Tiffin, Findlay and as far away as Lima.
The decision was made following a 30-minute public hearing before city council, in which Roxie Karg, who owns a neighboring property, spoke out against the decision, saying Hannah’s House should operate in an area that is zoned for such a business.
“It’s not a single-family dwelling; it’s not being used for that,” Karg told council members. “Instead, it’s being used as a teaching and child visitation center. It more closely conforms to something that you already have in there zoned for art teaching, dance teaching, something in that manner, which is approved for general business, late business, central business, highway business and multi-family. In these zones, we located 19 homes available.”
Droll applied for the special-use permit in January and the city’s planning commission recommended council approve the permit in March. In a written report, Zoning Inspector Ken McMillan classified Hannah’s House as a day care center, which is allowed to operate in the area if granted a special-use permit by city council.
Karg also said having Hannah’s House operate in the neighborhood would cause parking problems and increased traffic; however six of the seven council members approved the request, with Councilman Bill Thornton, who owns one of the neighboring properties, abstaining from the vote.
“I don’t see a parking issue,” Councilman Chad Smith said. “It’s a state route so there’s already plenty of traffic in the area.”
Droll said she plans to add off-street parking.
“There is the driveway that goes up to the home that offers four or five parking spots there,” she said. “We are also planning on in the backyard, which is adjacent to the alley, adding three to four parking spots in the yard, turning half of that into parking with a permit from the city to do so. Several people in the neighborhood have also offered to allow parking in their driveways for employees, staff and those circumstances to help alleviate some of the parking in the community.”
In other business, Mayor Scott Washburn reported he has sent a letter to the property owners and insurance company about the home at 208 W. Bigelow St. that was destroyed by fire last September.
“That letter went out to the property owner and the insurance company and we received word that the insurance company got word (Monday) and they had to send it up to the higher-ups,” Washburn said.
During a meeting April 2, members of the city’s safety committee said the property was a danger and needs to be torn down or boarded up.
Lastly, Washburn reminded residents that spring clean-up is next week and there will be no recycling.
By CHANDA NEELY