People who live or have businesses near the Harleigh Hotel made it clear Tuesday night that they don’t want ICAN Housing Solutions to convert the facility into apartments.
Residents of the neighborhood surrounding the Harleigh Hotel made it clear Tuesday night that they don’t want the business turned into apartments for homeless veterans.
ICAN Housing Solutions has a proposal to buy the 31-unit hotel and convert it into 25 apartments. The local agency is working with the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and trying to raise money to purchase and renovate the hotel.
About 75 residents attended a City Council work session, which was moved to the Civic Center because council expected the ICAN discussion would draw a large crowd.
Council spent more than an hour listening to a presentation from Maryellen Cameron, ICAN’s executive director, and questioning her further on the proposal. Then, they opened the floor to questions and comments from residents and nearby business owners.
“This does not fit in our neighborhood,” Bobby Greco, a Fifth Street NE resident, told Cameron. “It just doesn’t work.”
Neighbors also said they don’t believe Cameron when she says the building will become a home for veterans. They noted that ICAN generally provides housing for people suffering from mental illness.
“It’s a possibility there will not be a single veteran there, right?” Laura Young, another Fifth Street NE resident, asked Cameron.
In her presentation Cameron said ICAN’s goal is to lease only to veterans, although it’s possible nonveterans might live in the building. It also is likely that some residents will be suffering from mental illness, most likely post traumatic distress, she said.
Cameron said the Veterans Administration asked the agency to find a facility to help veterans. She believes the Harleigh will easily fill with veterans, but offered no guarantee. “I can tell you there is a need and that’s who we’re marketing to,” she said.
Council President Daryl Revoldt noted that ICAN has two smaller facilities in North Canton, and that neither had serious problems.
Currently, the Harleigh Inn operates as a hotel for transients. Owner Glen Miller said the building is generally full and attracts a variety of customers. He also noted that four of the current tenants are military veterans.
Cameron said one of those veterans has called asking about living in the building if it is purchased by ICAN.
But Tim Novelli, who operates a chiropractic clinic across the street from the Harleigh, told council that he’s seen the hotel deteriorate over the last 26 years. He complained that the building has only 10 residents who often are seen milling about and drinking.
“If we have 25 of them, my fears are the problems are going to multiply,” Novelli said.
Miller called Novelli’s complaints about current Harleigh tenants “ludicrous.”
Cameron said ICAN plans to review criminal records for tenants to weed out potential problems. The agency also will check background to see if any potential tenants have drug abuse problems. The agency won’t, however, be drug-testing potential tenants.
Page 2 of 2 - Residents also had concerns about whether ICAN would staff the building with doctors, nurses or other employees. They weren’t pleased when Cameron explained there is no permanent employees, only an on-site service coordinator who visits 15 hours per week.
Several times Cameron told the crowd there are no plans for the Harleigh to house severely mentally ill patients. “It’s an apartment building. It’s not a residential treatment center.”
Revoldt said council will review the issue when it meets in a work session March 7. The city has until March 13 if it wants to state disapproval or objection to the project with the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.
The project also must be approved by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Zoning doesn’t allow for 25 apartments in the space used by the Harleigh, and it also lacks sufficient parking spaces.
North Canton City Council
KEY ACTION Agreed to have City Engineer Jim Benekos begin design work on a new roof for City Hall.
DISCUSSION Benekos reviewed with council options for the roof repair, including building a pitched roof instead of replacing the flat roof. Although a pitched roof might last longer, the price would be between $330,000 and $360,000. Council members preferred installing a new flat roof, which is expected to cost between $165,000 and $185,000.
• Met in executive session prior to the work session to interview a candidate for the finance director vacancy.
• Set a public hearing for 6:45 p.m. April 4 to consider a zoning change from residential to general business for property in the 500 block of Applegrove Street NW. The planning commission rejected the change.
UP NEXT Meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.