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Lovers Lane property may become training center

PLANS ANNOUNCED — Attorney Dan Spahn told Steubenville’s Planning and Zoning Commission Monday his client, Jefferson County Education Service Center, wants to turn the former Church of Christ Scientists at 600 Lovers Lane into an office building and training center. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County Educational Service Center is hoping to turn the old First Church of Christ Scientists property on Lovers Lane into offices and a training center, Steubenville’s Planning and Zoning Commission was told Monday.

JSESC is asking the city to change the property’s classification from low-density residential (R-1) to professional and business office district (B-4). Commission members accepted JCESC’s application, requested legislation be prepared and scheduled a public hearing on the application for Nov. 1.

Considered a political subdivision with elected representatives, JSESC is headquartered across from McDonald’s on Sunset Bouelevard. It has two other buildings on Estelle Avenue and going up to Oxford Avenue, “but that’s pretty much a residential neighborhood and we feel like we’ve pressed into that neighborhood as much as we should,” JCESC’s attorney, Dan Spahn, told commission members

“Their church is closing,” Spahn said. “The JCESC needs office space, it needs space for a growing program called Help Me Grow. We got together and came up with a price but we have a zoning issue that we need to seal the deal.”

Help Me Grow, Ohio’s evidenced-based parent support program, is intended to produce and promote school readiness. It encourages early prenatal and well-baby care, as well as parenting education to promote the comprehensive health and development of children. The Help Me Grow System includes central intake, Help Me Grow home visiting and Help me Grow early intervention.

He said the site would be used for offices and staff training purposes. A child could, occasionally, be on the grounds, “but they’ll never be there without their parents because they’re going to be preschool children. They’ll serve families of preschool children and plug them into (services meeting their needs) for early intervention.”

Services with a handful of surrounding counties will be consolidated, and they expect to have as many as 19 workers on board when they open.

Help Me Grow representatives said neighbors they interviewed seemed pleased the property will be occupied and maintained, noting their only concern seemed to be how it would impact traffic flow. But, because Help Me Grow is a home-based program, most of the traffic on site will be staff coming to and from the office to file reports.

“We think it’s a perfect fit, and we’re hoping in the long run you’ll agree with us,” the spokesman said.

Planning Commission member Bill Hendricks made it clear he liked what he heard.

“I’m impressed with the 19 initial employees, we can use that,” Hendricks said. “If you have any more things like this, bring them in. We can all get (on board).”

Spahn pointed out there are other B-4 properties in the neighborhood.

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