Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center will break ground on its flagship orthopedic hospital this spring following the Fairlawn Planning Commission's unanimous vote Thursday night to approve a final plan for the site.
The five-member commission met for about five hours and heard comments about the facility, the construction of which is opposed by some homeowners in neighboring Bath Township residential developments.
The hospital, which will feature 12 operating rooms and 60 inpatient beds, is expected to open in 2021, according to the plan.
“We are excited to bring this advanced, state‐of‐the‐art new hospital to the local communities and to the greater region we serve," said Dr. Ron Suntken, Crystal Clinic CEO, in a news release Friday. "We are grateful for the mutually supportive and collaborative relationships with the communities we serve and we thank the Fairlawn Planning Commission.”
The plans presented Thursday are for a $100 million, three-story building of approximately 160,000 square feet at 3557 Embassy Parkway. The facility is designed to provide elective, inpatient and outpatient orthopedic and plastic surgeries, with walk-in orthopedic and plastic urgent care services; imaging services; and physical and occupational therapy.
“We believe we have met or exceeded the requirements of your zoning code,” Paul Widlarz from HGA Architects told the commission members.
Several Bath Township residents whose upscale homes are adjacent to the proposed hospital site showed up in force at the meeting in Fairlawn City Council chambers.
Some have adamantly opposed the hospital construction from the time plans were announced, attending and testifying at public hearings, writing letters of opposition to government officials, meeting with hospital personnel and Fairlawn representatives and filing a legal appeal in June 2018 in Summit County Common Pleas Court to the conditional use and preliminary site plan approval by the planning commission, a case still pending in court. The preliminary plan was approved in May.
Many asked questions or provided commentary during Thursday's hearing. Stormwater, landscaping and lighting plans were alternately questioned and criticized. Increases in traffic, decreases in property values and the potential for criminal activity were cited, while the issues of building height, hospital trash, noise pollution and deed restrictions were frequently cited.
“This hospital will disrupt our lives,” said Connie Brown of Winterberry Drive.
“We will never have privacy again,” said Cindy Myerson of Tulip Drive. “This is the wrong building for the wrong place for the wrong reasons.”
Incompatibility with the surrounding residential neighborhoods was a common concern. Carol Becker told commission members the proposed hospital was not “neighborly,” and that the plan for the facility was about profit, money and greed.
In an emailed letter to the commission the day before and in comments during the hearing, attorney Ben Ockner, representing several of the neighbors and the Crystal Shores Homeowners’ Association, stressed property value impacts.
“The proposed hospital is not harmonious with the surrounding uses, the plan provides no meaningful mitigation of the … potential adverse impacts on the surrounding properties,” Ockner wrote in his email.
He asked the commission members to defer a decision at least until a ruling is made on the pending appeal.
“Our role is to balance the rights of all citizens — homeowners and businesses — and that often brings us to the difficult decisions like this,” J. Scott Rainy, planning commission chairman, said. “We’re sensitive to that which is why we took four hours of testimony.”
He added that the planning commission's decisions are bound by city ordinances and have to be “balanced, thoughtful and sound. Our duty means doing the right thing for our friends and neighbors.”
Suntken said the clinic has been "a good neighbor on Embassy Parkway” for 30 years. “We will continue to do that with this hospital, which is about our patients and the communities we serve.”
Groundbreaking for the facility is planned for next month with construction scheduled to start in June, Suntken said.