A representative of Solon Park Apartments asked to be engaged in discussions regarding a proposed housing project to accommodate individuals with special needs.

The apartment complex on Park East Drive near Aurora Rod is in close proximity to the Portz Parkway parcel planned to be the site of the approximately $3 million Solon Community Living, pending voter approval next year of the rezoning for the 4-acre parcel.

City Council opened a public hearing on the ordinance Monday to inform voters about a proposed R-3-C Multi Family Residential Special Needs Zoning and implementing the zone for the property located at the southwest corner of Aurora Road and Portz Parkway.

Among comments during the hearing was from Tim Craft, representing Solon Park Apartments.

“We are not opposed to the project,” Mr. Craft said, “but we would also like to be involved.”

He continued that the proposed housing project is close to the apartment complex and they have concerns regarding traffic and noise. He also asked about the location of possible sidewalks.

As far as noise, Mr. Craft also inquired who would be responsible for the buffering and the maintenance of that buffering.

“Solon Park would prefer not to absorb that cost,” Mr. Craft said. “We welcome the opportunity to work with partners to make this project grow, but just want to be involved before the fact, not after the fact.

“That’s our goal.”

Mayor Edward H. Kraus said the city has been in discussions with the apartment complex as well as with Carrington Court. Preliminarily drawings show a connector road linking Carrington Court to Portz Parkway, but nothing has yet been finalized.

“The road and traffic should have very little impact on Solon Park given its location and the number of residents in the Carrington project and our proposed project,” Solon resident Ara Bagdasarian, who is proposing the rezoning along with wife Leslie, said following the meeting.

He said overall he and his wife were overwhelmed with the support expressed both by council and the families in attendance.

“You have seven people who support you 100 percent on this,” Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany said to the Bagdasarians of the dais.

“You are truly an inspiration to us all,” Councilman Marc R. Kotora said, “and I want to commend you for all your efforts.”

Law Director Thomas G. Lobe reminded those in attendance that this is a “multi-step process.” The rezoning is just the first step, he noted.

If they get through the rezoning, and it comes time to build, all the rigorous requirements of the planning commission and city council must be met, he said.

“We are at the first hurdle.”

Jeanne Sydenstricker, a Solon resident who has two adult sons with Fragile X syndrome and who spearheaded the start of Solon’s Blue Ribbon programming, which is adaptive recreation for individuals with special needs, spoke in support of the project.

“It’s really important to give people with disabilities the same flexibility and options for living situations that we provide to other people,” she said. She said Solon has a terrific reputation throughout the county in the area of special needs programming.

“I look forward to all of you helping us maintain that and enhance it (with this project),” she said.

Cleveland Heights resident Billie Erickson, who was in attendance with her adult son with special needs, said, “Solon has been a stellar example of a community who embraces this population,” she said. “It’s not easy, and there are challenges, but Solon stands out as a city that has done this very well.

“You will be a model for other cities,” Ms. Erickson added.

City Council will continue the public hearing at its next meeting and the matter will go through the three-reading process. Plans are to have the rezoning before the electorate in March, 2020.

The plan proposed includes 10-12 high-quality, two bedroom units with a minimum of one trained staff onsite 24 hours a day seven days a week. The project will be in the area of the Solon Community Center, the Solon Library and Community Park, among other amenities, allowing the residents easy access to them.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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