SHEFFIELD LAKE

A Sheffield Lake company's proposal to rezone land to build three homes for 18 adults with disabilities on vacant land on the city's far east side will head to council for consideration.

The Sheffield Lake Planning Commission voted 4-0 to grant the request by developer North Coast Design to rezone the land for the development following a required public hearing Jan. 28. No objections have been raised.

North Coast Design President Michael Cloud discussed the proposal at the Planning Commission meeting Jan. 15. The company had asked the city to rezone three groups of parcels. Two are on Abbe Road and one is on Lake Road. Two are currently zoned for commercial business and the third for multi-family use. Cloud is asking they be rezoned to R-2. Law Director David Graves said the rezoning request is actually more restrictive than the existing zoning for the parcels.

In written documents presented to Planning Commission members, the company laid out the steps it had taken to assure their request for rezoning and design plans conformed to city zoning laws and Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities regulations

Cloud also provided preliminary drawings of the exteriors and floor plans for the two Abbe Road homes. Cloud's documents said the intent was to provide “a family atmosphere” for residents. Each would be fully compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

If the request is approved, the properties would be purchased from current owners and the homes would be completely built in about six months.

Each home will accommodate six residents and will be staffed 24 hours a day, creating approximately 40 jobs.

Planning Commission member Leonard Eiermann works with developmentally disabled children and their families as an early intervention consultant with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

In a phone interview, Eiermann said aging parents fear what will happen to their kids. “They ask, 'Where's my kid going to live? Will they have the same opportunities? Will they have enough?' “ Eiermann said these parents worry their children will become institutionalized, and become isolated instead of living in a house with others and in a neighborhood where people care. “I think any parent can relate to that,” he said.

“This population of people allows us to look at our community differently, lets us be inclusive and be good people and look out for our fellow humans,” said Eiermann, who acknowledged he is passionate about the subject. “These are not the people the cops are going looking for.”

He added that community members won't have to worry that a property will be abandoned or neglected due to the way group homes are funded. “Property will be taken care of,” he said. “People won't be having to worry about all those petty neighbor disputes.”

According to Cloud's documents, Res-care Ohio will run the homes.

Mayor Dennis Bring attended the Planning Commission session and supports the proposal.

“They've been shunned in the past and deserve to be a part of the community,” he said. “It's hard enough. They deserve some quality of life.”

Contact freelance writer Michele Murphy at avonlakemurphy@gmail.com.

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