Tallmadge Council OKs conditional zoning for greenhouse, chickens at adult vocational facility

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- City Council approved a conditional zoning certificate Jan. 10 to allow Ardmore Inc. of Akron -- the operator of a vocational facility for adults with developmental disabilities called the Bridges program -- to have a chicken coop and greenhouse on the property and run and operate programs on the weekends.

Vegetables and chickens

The Newton Street facility operates 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Becky Susany, executive director of the Ardmore Foundation that owns the property, said the organization plans to build a three-season greenhouse, or "room," on the northwest side of the front of the building.

"This is an item that we're very excited about because we're hopefully going to be receiving federal Community Development Block Grant funds to pay for the construction of that ...," Susany told the Planning & Zoning Commission in December.

The outdoor gardens on the 10-acre property are used for the facility's cultivation program. The foundation hopes the greenhouse will allow them to enhance that part of the program.

"The reason why this is exciting to us is because this would enable the program to operate the cultivation of herbs and vegetables and other kinds of plants, year round," Susany said.

She said it's possible the clients of the program may sell their produce at a portable stand in the yard.

In addition, the foundation seeks to use a storage shed in the backyard that has been converted to a roost home as a chicken coop and run. Evergreen shrubs that will grow into hedges are proposed to serve as buffers in front of the structure.

The foundation plans to have no more than 25 chickens on the property, according to the application.

According to Megan Raber, the city's law director, chickens are permitted on residential properties. The foundation is requesting a conditional zoning certificate because the property isn't residential, although it's near other residential properties.

Extended hours

Another request the foundation is making is to extend the dates and times of Bridges to include weekend hours.

The foundation's third request is to extend its hours of operation at the facility to a similar hours on weekends so the chickens can be fed and the gardens can be tended on a regular basis, Susany said.

The foundation came before the Planning & Zoning Commission last fall with its original request for a conditional zoning certificate and a plan to only create the chicken coop and run. Susany told the Commission in December that after meeting with neighbors about the plans, the foundation decided to add shrubs as a visual barrier between the coop and run and the neighbors' views.

Ralph Shipley, who lives across from the facility on Newton Street, told the Commission he didn't approve of the proposal for various reasons, including that chickens attract rats, and he doesn't see why the city permits chickens at all anywhere.

He said the original variance for the facility prohibited an addition to the main building so this proposed addition shouldn't be allowed, and he disagreed with allowing the facility to operate on weekends.

Other neighbors told the Commission they were concerned about noise and trash that the proposed activities may bring.

"At this point in time, I'd like to say that I'm not overly thrilled with this because we like the nice quiet setting, the way it's peaceful now with all the neighbors. They're a nicely knit group of people, and we'd like to see it stay that way," said Richard J. Davis, also of Newton Street.

Email: hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9428

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