Since last November, Ara and Leslie Bagdasarian have been recruiting volunteers and mapping a campaign to garner support for Issue 19, new zoning on the primary ballot that would allow housing for adults with special needs.
For four years, the coupled worked diligently to share their vision of a sustainable and safe housing community for their two adult special needs children as well as others.
“The day before, we were ready to go,” Mr. Bagdasarian said of the March 17 primary.
But then the call came. Polls were closed on Election Day by the Ohio Department of Health in a move to contain the growing coronavirus sweeping Ohio and the country.
“That rezoning was a key first step to bringing this to fruition,” Mr. Bagdasarian said last week.
Although state officials say the election will occur, there is no indication when that may happen. The state administration, which has no legal say in the matter, recommended June 2 for the primary.
The plan for Solon Community Living, a $3 million housing project proposed for about 4 acres at the southwest corner of Aurora Road and Portz Parkway, was approved by city officials in December for placement on the March 17 primary ballot.
About a dozen volunteers were lined up for the various polling centers on Election Day, he said. “I had informed everyone we were ready to go then got the notification it was off.
“It was kind of a roller coaster evening,” Mr. Bagdasarian said. “There’s a pandemic going on so you have to take it in stride. It is people’s safety versus an issue (Issue 19) that is very important to you.”
Mr. Bagdasarian said he doesn’t look at this postponement as a major setback to his campaign, but rather a time delay. “It was out of anyone’s control.”
Mr. Bagdasarian is confident about the support the proposed rezoning has received thus far from city officials and residents.
The new zoning classification, R-3-C multi-family Residential Special Needs Zoning would have to pass citywide and in Ward 6, where the land in question is located.
Mr. Bagdasarian said he would have expected mail-in absentee ballots to have been higher than what was submitted prior to the postponement.
A total of 2,412 absentee ballots were requested and 1,785 submitted, he said. There are 17,122 registered voters in Solon.
Mr. Bagdasarian’s grassroots campaign leading up to the primary involved speaking at various events and to specific groups and residents.
Due to the pandemic, he plans to use social media to reach voters instead of knocking on doors.
He wants to get the message out of the importance of absentee voting.
“We can’t do much more now,” Mr. Bagdasarian added. “We are trying to take things in stride and say the big picture of people’s health is more important.”
Mr. Bagdasarian said he is grateful for all the support thus far for the project that would include about 12 high-quality, two bedroom units with a minimum of one trained staff onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The project site is close to the Solon Community Center, the Solon Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library and Solon Community Park.
“Yes, it’s a bit of a curveball, but in a few months things will be OK,” he said.