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21 Ivy Lodge OK'd

By Matt Russell

mrussell@postbulletin.com

Yves Ouellette, a resident of the historic Mayowood district, faced the prospect of having a new neighbor Tuesday night after a meeting of the Rochester Township Board of Supervisors.

"We lost a battle," he said after the board approved a permit for Drifens at Ivy Lodge, a chemical-dependency treatment center in the township at Rochester’s southwest edge.

By approving the permit for Drifens, the board overturned an earlier decision by Rochester Township’s planning and zoning commission.

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A key factor in Tuesday’s reversal was the impact of federal law on the township’s ability to deny a chemical-dependency treatment center in a residential zoning district.

Derek Mazula, the founder and chief executive officer of Drifens, argued that because Rochester Township’s zoning ordinance allows for group homes that serve people who are mentally retarded or have physical handicaps, federal law prohibits the township from discriminating against people with chemical dependencies by banning his treatment center.

Around 60 people attended the three-hour special meeting at the Rochester Township Hall, where the vote was 4-1 in favor of granting the permit. Brenda Dicken, Gary Donovan, Douglas Butler and Jeff Orth voted for the permit, which had 16 conditions attached to it. Brian Mueller voted against the permit.

"This is not the first time we’ve had broadbrush federal laws imposed on the microcosm of township government," Dicken said. "Maybe we’re not in as much control of our own destiny as we like to think we are."

Mazula said that he was "very pleased" with the decision, adding that he wanted to take a few days to look over the 16 conditions added to the permit before deciding what, if any, action he might take in response.

"This gives us a good starting point," he said.

Mazula still needs to get state authorization before opening Drifens at Ivy Lodge, which is located at the former country home of Dr. Charles W. Mayo. There’s still renovation work to be done at the house, he said, but he expects that it could open this summer.

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