Chiropractor takes kinks out of EP zoning issue

EAST PALESTINE – The matter of a zoning change request for a business at the entrance to Village Park has been resolved now that a buyer has been found for Dr. Ortenzio’s chiropractic office.

Dr. William F. Grubbs began operating the Neck and Back Pain Relief Center at 40 Park Drive about two weeks ago. He has more than 15 years experience and offices in Lisbon and Carrollton.

Ortenzio is assisting at the new practice and will continue the next six months or so as he moves into retirement.

Also on staff is Dr. Christopher Horey and physical therapist George Summers. Ortenzio’s wife Nancy is also assisting during the transition.

Because the building remains a chiropractic office a zoning change is no longer needed.

Ortenzio approached the planning commission in January requesting the property be zoned B-1 instead of residential because he was looking to retire the practice and hoped the change would speed along the process.

He has operated the practice the last 35 years and began looking for a buyer after deciding to retire. He purchased the building in 1978 from Dr. Mollenkopf, who established his practice in 1946, before zoning was enacted.

The business has operated using a pre-existing, non-conforming use permit and because of that the building could only be sold to someone intending to use it as a chiropractic office or other health care facility.

Ortenzio’s request for the change was met with opposition by some on council who were concerned it would be a detriment to the residential area, and especially the park.

Councilman Alan Cohen argued it would allow for gas stations and tattoo parlors to operate there, and also that approving the request was illegal under state law because it was showing preference to a business.

The request went before council and no action was taken after Cohen argued it could not be done lawfully.

Now that the building has been sold to another medical facility it can remain in operation under the non-conforming use permit.

Ortenzio said finding the buyer happened “out of left field.”

He said when he became ill in June the office was temporarily closed and one of his patients went to Dr. Grubbs in Lisbon.

After learning through the patient Ortenzio planned to retire the two doctors met and discussed plans.

“He asked if I would be willing to stay on. It’s been an ongoing process. I’m glad things worked out the people of East Palestine have been very good to us,” Ortenzio said.

Cohen said he is also pleased.

“I’m just very happy that somebody is occupying the premises and that it’s a business that was the same type that was there before. It matches the non-conforming use that was previously approved. I’m really happy that it worked out for Dr. Ortenzio, and it actually worked out for the neighbors,” he said.

Earlier this year he said some nearby residents were willing to approach council to express their disapproval of a zone change.

“That was my main goal, to protect the interest of the neighbors, to make sure that no distracting or annoying or nuisance type of business (operated there),” he said.

Ortenzio said that although he plans to retire he will keep his license active another few years. He is assisting with the new practice two days a week.

“I’ve had a good run in town. It’s been a pleasure working down there,” he said.