Zone change could give Lisbon a better handle on rehab facilities

LISBON –The village planning commission wants to tighten up the zoning regulations so the village will have a say when it comes to the location of drug rehabilitation halfway houses and similar residential treatment facilities.

During this week’s Village Council meeting, Councilman Ryan Berg announced a public hearing will be held 6 p.m. April 10 on a planning commission request that the areas of town zoned R-3 (residential/multi-family) be rezoned to R-2 (residential/conditional use).

Under the multi-family designation, the zoning board would have no say on what is located within that area if the application meets all requirements, and this would include halfway houses. Berg said a conditional use designation would require any application in the area be subject to zoning board approval.

Berg said the planning commission wants to change the designation because of the growth of drug rehabilitation facilities due to the increased amounts of federal and state money being allocated for this purpose. The board is not necessarily opposed to such facilities, but wants some control over where they should be located within a residential area.

“We just want a say in where they should go,” and a zoning change would allow them to do that, he said.

Under village rules, the planning commission must formally request council approve the zoning change. Council will then have to hold a public hearing of its own before acting on the request.

In other action, council discussed whether to add two seasonal employees to help with mowing, freeing up street and cemetery employees up to perform other work. Fiscal Officer Tracey Wonner, who also serves as council clerk, said it would cost the village about $14,000 if they hired the two people for $10 an hour to work 520 hours each between May and August.

Councilman Jerry Cox liked the idea, but he wondered if it might not be cheaper to contract with a private mowing service. Wonner said the cost was about $20,000 the last time she obtained quotes from a private mowing service, but that included mowing all village property.

Cox spent 10 years in the landscaping business, and he suggested the village do some of the mowing itself and hire out the rest to save money. He knows people with lawn services and will seek quotes from them to mow the easiest portions of village property.

Council also agreed to contract with EverBrite, Inc., of North Jackson to again provide street sweeping services at a cost of $2,080 for two eight-hour days. The village began contracting with EverBrite last year rather than continue to spend money to repair its street sweeper vehicle.