Akron Children’s Withdraws Zoning Application for $18.6M Expansion

BOARDMAN, Ohio – An $18.6 million expansion at the Beeghly Campus of Akron Children’s Hospital is on hold after residents of the neighborhood next to the site voiced concerns at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Boardman Township Zoning Board of Appeals.

As a result, a groundbreaking scheduled for Wednesday was indefinitely postponed.

Akron Children’s announced the first phase of the expansion project Oct. 1, and said it would be completed in April. When all four phases were complete, the campus would be expanded by more than 51,000 square feet, the hospital said.

“Part of the expansion was to install parking lots under the high voltage power lines in the northern quarter of their property. The adjacent neighbors on Romaine Avenue expressed opposition to that,” said John Shultz, chairman of the Boardman Township Zoning Board of Appeals. “We have no idea what type of voltage those wires carry. We have serious safety concerns about what would happen if a wire snapped during a storm. We have concerns about how the electric company would access that if there are parked cars in the way.”

Further pressing matters, Shultz added, was the fact that no representatives from Ohio Edison attended the meeting and could address  questions raised by neighbors and the zoning board.

Residents of Romaine Avenue are also concerned about the noise the parking lot would create. One resident, according to zoning inspector Sarah Gartland, said that a small business next to his house regularly has only four or five cars in its parking lot and he hears cars starting and doors shutting throughout the day.

“And that’s only with four or five,” she said. “Even with the fence and plants the hospital’s putting up, with 80 cars in that lot all day long, it still creates a lot of noise. That was a big concern.”

Shultz noted that the expansion would most likely increase the helicopter traffic at the hospital, and the new space would require new heating and cooling systems, which would also create more sources of noise.

Many of the adjacent properties on Romaine Avenue, Gartland pointed out, are short lots and have buildings – mostly sheds and garages – on the property line. The plans for Akron Children’s Hospital would build much closer to the property line than the current structure.

After the meeting Tuesday night, Akron Children’s Hospital withdrew its zoning permit application, saying in a statement that the hospital “plans to review its plans and is confident a compromise can be reached so its planned investment in the health of children of the Mahoning Valley can move forward with the full support of the community.”

There is no timeline for when new plans must be submitted to the township zoning board, Shultz said.

“They are under no time constraints and no time restrictions,” he said. “Once they have modified their plans, the can submit them and address those plans to the committee.”

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