City, operator of addicts housing delay courtroom showdown to work toward settlement

Mayor fights New Foundations houses in Price Hill

CINCINNATI – A courtroom showdown between the city and the man accused of running seven illegal houses for recovering addicts in Price Hill has been delayed to allow the two sides to work toward a settlement, the city says.

A hearing on the city's motion for a temporary restraining order against Ross Shively's New Foundations Transitional Housing has been continued from June 11 until July 23.

"The discussions have been progressing and both sides mutually agreed to a new date," said city spokesperson Rocky Merz.

The city went to court April 30 seeking to shut down the houses unless NFTL complied with the zoning code within 90 days. Speaking at a news conference, Mayor John Cranley claimed Shively violates the code by cramming 12-15 recovering addicts in each property in neighborhoods zoned for single-family housing, which permits only four non-related residents. 

Besides seeking a permanent injunction to close the seven houses, the city asked for a temporary restraining order to keep Shively from opening an eighth addicts house in a vacant two-family he bought at 933 Rutledge Ave.

The city made a settlement offer on May 19 that would allow Shively to keep 55 residents in the seven houses he currently operates (27 more than the zoning code allows).

The city also demanded that Shively sell the Rutledge property to an unaffiliated third party.

RELATED: See the city's settlement offer

Shively's attorney rejected the offer and said NFTL wanted an accommodation allowing 10 or more residents in each house (for a minimum of 70).

RELATED: See the response from Shively's attorney

Shively also accused Cranley of acting out of personal interests in trying to force him to sell that house and said the city had no right to make such a demand.

Unlike non-profit centers for addicts, Shively owns the seven houses and charges rent -- $322 per month or $87 per week.

The city's offer would cut the number of NFTL residents roughly in half and shrink Shively's profit accordingly.

Shively's attorney, Steven G.Polin, said the city zoning code violates the federal Fair Housing Act and threatened to sue the city in federal court.

The federal law requires zoning boards to make "reasonable accommodation" in waiving, changing or modifying existing rules persons for people with disabilities, Polin says.

Polin said NFTL residents share a common disability and are "functionally equivalent" to a "family," and the city should consider them as such.

In a May 9 letter to the city,   Polin pointed out that the city zoning code allows 10 member of a religious order or 10 people 60 years and older to live together in a single dwelling unit. 

RELATED: Should houses for recovering addicts stay or go?
RELATED: Neighbors fight to keep addicts off Rutledge Avenue
MORE: Read more about New Foundations Transitional Living on its website .

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