Angry neighbors blasted a low-income apartment housing plan and North Canton City Council agreed with them Monday.
Residents opposed to a plan for low-income housing found sympathetic ears at City Council Monday.
ICAN Housing Solutions wants to purchase the Harleigh Inn at 500 N. Main St. and convert it into a 25-unit apartment house. The building would have eight one-bedroom and 17 efficiency apartments.
ICAN has said its plan is to create affordable housing for low-income military veterans. But the agency’s letter to the city said veterans and/or other low-income people.
That’s only part of what has residents concerned.
Laura Young told council that ICAN’s web site says nothing about helping veterans, only people with mental health issues. There are more than 50 children in the neighborhood and she’s concerned for their safety, she said.
“Can they guarantee they’re all going to be veterans?” she asked. “If they’re not veterans, what are their criminal backgrounds?”
“You let something like this in and you’re asking for the downfall of North Canton.”
Council President Daryl Revoldt said the issue could have a serious economic impact on the city. “I think everyone wants to help veterans.” He wants to find out how much weight council’s opposition or agreement will impact the plan. ICAN also faces a potential stumbling block with the Board of Zoning Appeals
Ward 2 Councilman Daniel Peters agreed. “I would like to help veterans if I could,” he said. But we have no guarantee that it will be veterans.” He said the facility would likely be a drain on city services. “I’m absolutely opposed,” he said.
The project is in its early stages. ICAN has an agreement to purchase the Harleigh, but is working on financing.
ICAN is seeking a zoning variance for the number of required parking spaces. The hotel has only 32 parking spaces and city code requires two spaces per apartment unit for a total of 50. Hotel rooms will be remodeled into apartments. Plans also call for a new roof and other improvements to the building.
Ward 3 Councilman Jeff Davies said the rooms at the Harleigh aren’t large enough to qualify for permanent housing. Also, because of some the potential funding sources, the facility likely couldn’t be limited to veterans.
Council is scheduled to discuss the proposal with Maryellen Cameron, ICAN executive director, as its next meeting Feb. 22. She has said the Harleigh will be different from other ICAN housing facilities created to help mental health patients.
Council also heard from several residents of the Eastwoods subdivision. They’ve been complaining about the lack of street repairs and sewer problems for several years. Council members said they were looking at ways to find money to finance the repairs.