MRDD modular home moved to Berlin Road site

HURON It came on a large semi bearing a "Wide-Load" sign. One-half of the m
MIKE FITZPATRICK
May 24, 2010

HURON

It came on a large semi bearing a "Wide-Load" sign.

One-half of the modular home that will house as many as four clients of the Erie County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities was moved to 335 Berlin Road on Friday.

The house has been at the center of controversy in Huron since May, when the city put a stop work order on the home in the belief it violated zoning regulations for the Berlin Road neighborhood.

Residents expressed reservations about the home being built because they were unsure what kind of neighbors the MRDDclients would be. They alsofeared the group home couldhurt property values in theneighborhood.

All of those concerns seemed to melt away in Friday's brightsunshine as MRDD clientssurrounded the foundation of the home while workers stabilized the structure, which will eventually be moved onto the foundation and bolted down.

"This is great," MRDD Superintendent Gerald Plassenthal said.

The house is a joint project between MRDD and The Arc of Erie County. Arc provides housing for MRDD clients. The two agencies combined to fund construction of the $100,000 home, which was built by students at EHOVE Career Center. The 1,700-square-foot home will include two bathrooms and four bedrooms.

Dale Pachasa lives a couple of houses from where the MRDD home will stand. He watched as the truck carrying one-half of the home backed into a gravel driveway.

"They've got to live someplace," Pachasa said of his future neighbors.

Phyliss Wiley also lives in the neighborhood. She feared the home would eventually become a halfway home -- echoing an apparent rumor that circulated through the Berlin Road neighborhood. But after hearing Plassenthal tell Huron city council at a recent meeting the people living in the MRDD home would provide no threat to the neighborhood and the home would not become a halfway house, she welcomes her eventual new neighbors.

"We're all born the way we're born," Wiley said. "I hope it works out for everyone -- for us and them."

A man wearing a baseball cap, jeans and shading himself under a tree watched from a distance as MRDD clients and workers hauled wooden planks around the construction site. The man, who did not give his name, said officials from the Arc lied on their building permit for the home and should have indicated the home would have MRDD clients living in it.

"I don't like it -- that's it. I don't like the underhanded way it was done," the man said.

When the Arc of Erie County housing director Don Roesch took out the building permit for the home he indicated it would be a single-family home. The Berlin Road neighborhood is zoned for single and two-family homes. The city shut down construction of the home, contending it was a multi-family dwelling.

The city consulted a zoning expert, who advised the city to allow the construction to continue.

Plassenthal said he bears no hard feelings toward the city or Berlin Road residents who may have opposed the home.

"The city did what they thought they had to do. In the end it all came out with a positive outcome," Plassenthal said.

Don Roesch, housing director for Arc of Erie County, was spotted helping prepare the foundation for placement of the modular home. The house is split into two sections. Casters and boards will be used to move the home on top of the foundation sometime next week, Roesch said. Landscaping and the driveway must also be installed.

In about three weeks there will be an open house, Plassenthal said. MRDD and The Arc still do not know who will live in the home, he said.

Sam Stewart, 29, an MRDD client, was at the construction site Friday. He wore a Michigan State basketball jersey said the house was nice, but he would not live in it.

"The rent will be too much," Stewart said.