City Council has put a six-month moratorium on issuing permits for senior-oriented businesses. The move halts progress on new assisted-living, nursing home and memory care facilities.

During discussion before their unanimous vote last week, council members cited concerns about strains on the city’s EMS service if new senior or memory care homes are added.

Fire Chief David Swope said nearly 35% of his department’s EMS runs are for congregate care facilities. That translates into 861 runs so far this year.

Swope said a personnel shortage at private ambulance companies has added to the number of runs the city makes. He said if commercial ambulances are not available, city ambulances are the only option. The EMS runs are not always for emergencies. Swope estimated roughly half of the calls his department receives from senior facilities are for non-urgent situations.

Swope quickly added personnel are expected to treat patients as family members no matter the circumstances.

Ward 2 Councilman Dennis McBride said there are some facilities, which he declined to name, abusing the use of city ambulances. He said the city should not be a “pickup service.”

“We really need to look at this and if we put a couple of these people out of business, I don’t really care because they created the problem themselves, they are the nuisance,” McBride said.

City Law Director John Gasior said potential solutions to the problem could be increasing ambulance fees or a zoning change limiting the number of senior-oriented facilities in any area of the city. He said it might be logical to cluster facilities around University Hospitals’ Avon Health Center on Healthway Drive.

Gasior suggested “putting the brakes” on permitting further facilities until officials can sift through their options. The moratorium, which would last through June 1, could be extended if necessary, he added.

Another solution might be adding an EMS unit to the city’s three-vehicle fleet.

Avon currently has approximately eight senior congregate care homes consisting of 786 beds. Two more senior-oriented care facilities totaling 220 beds are seeking permits to locate in Avon. It is not clear if the moratorium will affect those projects, Gasior said.

“At this point I would have to say ‘no,’ but it’s something we need to do a little more research into,” he said.

A developer has proposed an approximately 100-bed nursing home for Nagel Road, Avon Planning Coordinator Pam Fletcher told City Council. A 120-bed memory facility is planned for Chester Road.

Avon is addressing an issue faced four years ago by Westlake. Westlake City Council imposed a six-month moratorium in June 2017. Westlake officials wanted to review their zoning regulations due to a steady stream of such facilities coming to the suburb.

The moratorium was intended to give officials the time to conduct their review, much the same as Avon’s Gasior suggested.

Westlake had 15 senior living centers at the time with another in development. EMS calls had increased from 535 in 2012 to 758 in 2016.

Mayor Dennis Clough referred questions on the results of the moratorium to City Council President Michael Killeen. Killeen did not respond to a request for comment.

Avon City Council was scheduled to vote Monday to buy a new ambulance for approximately $360,000. The new unit would replace a vehicle in service since 2008 and in poor condition, Swope said. He added the cost of restoring the vehicle is likely higher than buying a new one. The ambulance is used as a backup vehicle.

The vote occurred after press time. The purchase was not in response to any problems with congregate care residences.

Contact this reporter at tcorrigan@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.