CUYAHOGA FALLS -- City Council voted 7-4 April 10 in favor of plans for a 62-unit senior apartment complex on Pleasant Meadow Boulevard off of Wyoga Lake Road.
On April 3, some 50-60 residents filled Council Chambers, 10 of whom spoke out against the project for reasons that included the loss of trees, increase in flooding and decrease in property values.
The site plan application was approved by the planning commission on March 21 during a meeting that drew 50-60 people, according to an administrative specialist for the city's community development department. According to the city planning division's staff report, owner Cuyahoga Falls Senior LLC of Cleveland submitted a major site plan application for 62 apartment homes in a four-story building.
The architect is RDL Architects and the engineer is GPD Group. The complex, according to the application, will be a green building -- one that promotes sustainable living. NRP Group LLC of Cleveland represents the owner.
Nici Lucas, a city resident, called the project's approval "very disappointing." In an email to the Falls News-Press, Lucas said she believes with "regular communication to the community about construction timelines and implementation of adequate buffers and the planting of trees, we can try to focus on the positives as much as possible." She said she and Planning Director Fred Guerra are going to work out a plan where she will help relay information to the neighboring community.
"Communication with the developer on behalf of the community will also be very helpful," she added. "Communication will be key."
At the Council meeting on April 3, Mary Hada of NRP Group said she has been working with the landowner on this project for the past couple of years. "We have worked with the city to meet all the criteria and additional things to make this a coordinated effort for the site plan," Hada said, "to where the city could go ahead with their trail and we could preserve the green space but then also do the housing for the seniors where it's already zoned R-5 (mixed density residential)."
The project was favored by Councilmembers Vince Rubino (D-1), Vic Pallotta (R-3), Mary Nichols-Rhodes (D-4), Adam Miller (R-6), Jerry James (D-7), Russ Iona (R-8) and President Mary Ellen Pyke (R-2). The plan was opposed by Councilors Mike Brillhart (D-5), Paul Colavecchio (D-at large), Carol Klinger (R-at large) and Jeff Iula (R-at large).
In an email shared with the Falls News-Press by Pallotta, the councilman told Lucas he voted in favor of the project because he believed, after walking the property, that the natural habitat neighbors enjoyed is gone and Council "can't bring it back."
Colavecchio told the Falls News-Press he voted against the project because, "A comprehensive water removal plan should have been formulated. Employing the services of a hydrologist is a good idea given the ongoing water problems in the neighboring developments." He said the sudden removal of mature trees "can only exacerbate the existing issues."
"I voted yes for the site plan construction because the property owner met all zoning and legal requirements and it was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission," Nichols-Rhodes told the Falls News-Press. " having affordable housing options for our residents is desirable. The building is going to be 'green' with sustainability in mind, and the project will benefit the nature trails, wetland storage and other improvements in the Mill Pond-Mud Brook Greenway Master Plan."
Nichols-Rhodes said she had received feedback from her Ward 4 constituents in favor of the project.