FAIRLAWN — Crystal Clinic is moving plans forward for a backup location for an orthopedic center in Fairlawn, but that doesn’t mean it’s abandoning its preferred location that’s been the focus of a yearlong court battle with nearby residents.

The proposed backup location for the Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center would be at 951 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road in the Fairlawn Corporate Park, according to the agenda for Thursday’s Fairlawn Planning Commission meeting. The clinic’s preferred location, for which the planning commission has already approved a final site plan, is at 3557 Embassy Parkway.

Late last month, Summit County Common Pleas Chief Magistrate Kandi O'Connor denied a request for a temporary restraining order filed by attorneys for the nearby Bath homeowners to prevent construction at the Embassy Parkway site.

“That’s just a plan B is what that is,” Crystal Clinic spokesperson Rick Worrell said Monday of the Fairlawn Corporate Park location. “As a matter of fact, we’re still moving ahead on Embassy Parkway like we have the whole time, and that's the direction we’re moving in … To have a plan B is just good practice.”

Crystal Clinic announced plans last year to build a 160,000-square-foot orthopedic facility with 12 operating rooms and 60 inpatient beds in Fairlawn. Worrell said the targeted completion date for the center is still 2021.

The project has faced fierce criticism and a lengthy court battle from Bath homeowners whose properties abut the site. Their objections include the height of the facility, which would be one of the tallest buildings in the city at nearly 50 feet high, with another 10 feet of mechanical equipment on the roof.

Other concerns include light and sound pollution, decreasing property values, safety issues and concerns with patients being able to look into their homes and yards.

Ben Ockner, an attorney representing several of the homeowners, declined to comment Monday.

The proposed 14.8-acre backup site is on Cleveland-Massillon Road, just north of the Ridgewood Road intersection. Its southern border is roughly in line with Southwestern Boulevard in the corporate park.

The property sits on the edge of Fairlawn’s border with Copley, with Copley High School located almost next door on Ridgewood Road, but it's located within Fairlawn city limits.

The planning commission will review the preliminary site plan for the project at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Fairlawn City Hall, 3487 S. Smith Road. According to Crystal Clinic’s application to the planning commission for the project, the final site review is expected at the planning commission’s Aug. 8 meeting.

Construction costs for the facility, which would include an estimated 300 new employees, are estimated at $70 million, according to the clinic’s application. Crystal Clinic has previously said in court documents it would lose millions in construction costs if the project were moved.

To allow facilities like the Crystal Clinic center to be built there, Fairlawn's five-member planning commission last month unanimously approved recommending Fairlawn City Council add a new classification to the city's zoning code to allow for specialty hospitals and rezone the 14.8 vacant acres in the corporate park to the new zoning.

The council gave the ordinance a first reading at its June 3 meeting and a second reading at its June 17 meeting. A public hearing on the ordinance is set for 6:30 p.m. July 15 in council chambers. The council will only move forward on voting on the ordinance if Crystal Clinic decides to move its center to the corporate park.

The project’s architect has previously said if the building were constructed in the corporate park, where it would be allowed to be up to 65 feet high with up to an additional 15 feet of mechanical equipment on the roof, it would be similar to the planned Embassy Parkway building.

The specialty orthopedic elective-based acute care facility would include 24-hour care, but there would be limited hours for elective inpatient and outpatient surgery, with no dedicated emergency department or helipad, limited ambulance traffic and no on-site retail pharmacy.

There are at least four cases in Summit County Common Pleas Court related to the center.

 

Contact reporter Emily Mills at 330-996-3334, emills@thebeaconjournal.com and @EmilyMills818.