Tallmadge plans 'low-impact' use of former Summit DD site

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal

Tallmadge's Planning and Zoning Commission has issued conditional use certificates for the Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board property at North Avenue (state Route 91) and Howe Road to prepare for its future use and preserve its current use. 

The site had been conditionally zoned as an educational institution, but has since been split into multiple lots. 

Summit County is retaining the western building for a regional dispatch center and the eastern building for a public and safety storage facility. Tallmadge has purchased the central building, the former school, and is exploring multiple uses. All three buildings are being conditionally rezoned for government owned buildings and facilities. 

"[The central] building will continue to be used by the DD Board for administrative offices, so that is the government use. Because of the property split, we need to do the conditional zoning so that they meet the needs they have," law director Megan Raber said. 

The soccer and baseball fields are being conditionally rezoned for government owned parks and playgrounds. 

"The soccer field stays as a soccer field. The rezoning is to protect that," Mayor David Kline said in response to citizen concerns about future uses. "The zoning change further keeps it as a governmental park. Same with Parcel C [the baseball field]. We are not planning to do anything other than parks and rec."

Regarding the school building itself, Kline explained that the city has put together a committee to look at potential uses, but that if any of the concepts do not fit under "government owned buildings and facilities," the matter would come before planning and zoning again. 

"Our goal is to keep it low-impact," he said. "We want to protect the dispatch and the garage, so we don't want to put anything in the middle to disrupt those operations." 

Bill DiPuccio, who lives directly across from the school on East Howe Road, said he was in favor of the planned future use of the property as it would not greatly increase traffic.

"The alternate, compared to others like retail or high density housing, this is working out quite well, I think," he said.

DiPuccio added he is concerned about the lighting at the property, but Kline assured him city code requires all lights to be downcast and prohibits light from shining off a property.

The city expects to take control of the former school building at the end of 2021 or the middle of 2022. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.