FAIRLAWN: With a standing-room-only crowd on hand, the Fairlawn Planning Commission on Thursday voted to grant conditional use and preliminary site approval requests for the proposed Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Hospital at 3557 Embassy Parkway.

The 3-2 vote at the close of the nearly four-hour meeting disappointed residents from adjacent developments in Bath Township, who showed up to urge Fairlawn officials to reject the planned construction.

The planning commission heard from both supporters and opponents and listened to a presentation from HGA Inc. architect Paul Widlarz, who pointed out “fairly significant changes” that have been made to the site plan in response to residents’ concerns.

John Dellagnese, who began development of the Embassy Parkway business park 32 years ago, insisted the proposed hospital was a good fit for the site.

“If I didn’t think this was the right project, I wouldn’t be working with the clinic,” he said.

Bath residents raised complaints including noise and light pollution, traffic tie-ups, landscape buffering, criminal activity and safety concerns.

“It would be the largest building on Embassy Parkway,” said Eric Brown of Winterberry Drive. “Twenty-five years ago, I would have thought it was fiction to have a building of 49 feet, 6 inches in my backyard.”

“You are taking away our privacy and security,” said Cindy Meyerson of Tulip Drive. “How dare you take away our options so a group of doctors will have a shorter commute!”

Most opponents cited their fear that the hospital would drive down their property values. Resident Mike Paparella told commission members he tallied the number of homes in adjacent developments and he totaled at least a $30 million devaluation based on the hospital being built.

“Would any of you put this in your backyard?” asked Dr. Arnold Nothnagel of Tulip Drive.

“It does not belong in my backyard,” said Carol Becker of Ghentwood Drive. “I hope and pray you will listen to us.”

Widlarz said the hospital’s plans for the 12-acre parcel comply with Fairlawn’s conditional-use zoning code and have been modified to address Bath residents’ concerns about the building’s size, parking, lighting, noise and stormwater issues.

Proponents of the plan also said the most recent traffic study indicated the hospital operation would “marginally impact” driving in the area.

Ben Ockner, an attorney retained by the Crystal Shores Homeowners’ Association to represent their opposition, questioned whether proposed improvements to the Cleveland-Massillon/Ghent roads intersection would adequately address the traffic issues.

“We disagree with the judgment to place this particular building in this location,” Ockner told the commission. “It does harm and it does it intentionally.”

Planning commission chair J. Scott Rainey said members had visited the development site and the adjacent neighborhoods and thanked those in attendance for “helping us deliberate.”

Ronald Suntken, president and CEO of Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center, said the Planning Commission still must give its OK for the final site plan, expected in the late summer or early fall.

The hospital plans to open in July 2020.