Residential treatment center denied in Ferron
|Charlotte Williams speaks with the Ferron City Council. |
During the Ferron City Council meeting on Feb. 28, a decision was made concerning the proposed residential treatment center. Charlotte Williams of Orangeville was requesting zoning changes to allow her to open the center for teenage girls. Williams has been a foster parent in her home for more than 10 years and is looking for a location to open a treatment center to be able to help more troubled girls.
Williams began by reading a letter to the city council from her attorney. In the letter, the attorney wrote about the Utah State statutes regarding the disabled. It is his contention that girls with problems in behavioral areas are disabled. He also stated the highway zoning of the proposed site for the treatment center, by Utah code, is allowed by Ferron's present zoning.
"I have been trying to open this residential treatment center for quite a while now. This is a worthwhile effort and I ask you to reconsider the planning and zoning commission's decision," stated Williams. She then introduced two Ferron residents and one Orangeville resident who spoke in her behalf.
Phil Fauver of Orangeville was the first to speak. "I have lived next door to Charlotte and Scott Williams for many years. I have seen the girls come and go to school and in the neighborhood. I have seen no difficulties take place there. She has provided a good environment for the girls. Ferron residents fears are unfounded," he said.
Sharon Bergeman was next. "I live just to the north of this proposed facility. We are in favor of this treatment center. It is needed here and not 50-100 miles away. It's a good thing and they (the Williams') have an outstanding reputation. These children they will help are our future," she concluded.
The final speaker for the Williams' was Linda White, a long time resident of Ferron. She stated she has spoken with Charlotte Williams and also has done research into the statistics concerning troubled girls. She said Utah is in the upper percentile of states with teenage birth rates and sexually transmitted diseases. "At the Utah Youth Village, a similar type of facility, their success rate is 77 percent. By the State's own statistics, the Department of Child and Family Services is only 33 percent. The other treatment centers, who are modeling their programs after Utah Youth Village are averaging 50 percent success. Anything that will help our kids is good. Many people are afraid of the children this will bring in. Most of the children she will have at the center are already in the foster care program in Emery and Carbon counties and are already going to school with your children," she stated.
|Gil Conover, Ferron Mayor, Trent Jackson and Joe Trenery of the Ferron Council consider the Ferron residential treatment center at the recent city council meeting.|
Rod Toomer, a Ferron resident and former city councilman addressed the council. "This business is not in question. Ferron's zoning does not allow a facility like this. This issue is a legal matter and the council needs to know the legalities. The question is what's legal and what's not?" Toomer said.
Rod Moore, a resident of Ferron was next on the agenda. "In response to the letter from Charlotte's attorney, the definition of the Americans with Disabilities Act states the disability must constitute a substantial limitation, physical or mental, on the person. Also, the only other facility we have in this town such as this treatment center is Emery Care and Rehab. It is not on the highway but in a less busy part of town. The traffic on SR-10 is unusually high," said Moore.
Matt MECCAriello played a video for the council which he had filmed personally. It showed two minute segments, one near the site of the proposed treatment center and one near Emery Care and Rehab. In the video, a vehicle, and many coal trucks, passed the treatment center site every 15 seconds. Near the rehab center, only two vehicles went by. MECCAriello said, in his opinion, the highway location of the proposed treatment center was not a safe or appropriate place for the youth to be housed.
Richard Chamberlain, an attorney from Richfield who represents Ferron City, said he has reviewed the analysis of Williams' attorney. "I understand his position, but I feel he should have gone further with his research. I am not taking sides, but my opinion is that before this facility can be allowed, the zoning ordinances in Ferron must be changed. The State statutes named are concerning group home type situations, not residential treatment centers. Residential facilities and residential treatment facilities are covered in two separate sections with no cross reference. If the Utah legislature's intent was for these two types of facilities to be considered the same, it would have been cross referenced. This proposed facility is a residential treatment facility, not a residential facility for the disabled or elderly. It is still my opinion that Ferron would have to amend their ordinances to allow this type of facility," said Chamberlain.
Following the discussion about the residential treatment center, the Ferron City Council voted, three to one, not to amend the ordinances of the city.