Planning commission recommends group home permits

By Kayleigh Rahn
The City of Tuscola planning commission, during its hearing Thursday, Feb. 28, recommended that two Tuscola properties be granted a special use permit to provide homes for adults with intellectual disabilities.

The recommendations were approved with votes of 4-1-1 and 4-2 with the provision that the homes house no more than four residents with 24-hour staff onsite.

Heather Houser on behalf of Newt Investments made the requests for the properties located at 509 E. Northline Rd. and 106 Fina Dr., Tuscola. Both properties are zoned D2, general dwelling. This is the second set of requests from Marion County Horizon Center for group homes in Tuscola. The first set of properties, located at 916 N. Center St. and 15 Raymond Dr., have been renovated and opened as homes for four adults each this year.

On Thursday night, Bob Ard, a Tuscola resident who lives near the Northline Street home, asked several questions of Marion County Horizon Center executive director David Armbrust regarding the number of residents per home and degree of the residents’ disabilities.

“My preference is for individual bedrooms, which is more normal in my opinion,” Armbrust said, noting they plan to have four residents per home.

“The degree of disability varies,” Armbrust said. “Most of the people we serve are ambulatory and can walk. On an IQ level, many can talk and do a lot of those things, but we also go to the other side, and we work with individuals who function in the profound range and maybe can’t speak. But I would say, by and large, most of the folks can speak and walk.”

Armbrust also noted that one to two staff members are at the homes while the residents are awake and one while they are asleep. The staff members are trained through a program with the Department of Human Services that includes a minimum of 120 hours of training, Armbrust clarified.

“Security at the homes includes a double lock door like most of us have on homes, but for safety we have a fire alarm system and sprinkler system that is hardwired into the home,” he added. “We have a privacy fence on occasion but if there is a concern we will put it in, but typically there is not a concern.”

The full story can be found in the March 6, 2019 edition of The Tuscola Journal.

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