Zoning commission considers new mental health facility

by Martin McConnell

June 26 zoning commission meeting

The Sagamore Hills Zoning Commission heard from Kevin Strong, president of the New Aurora Health Center, who proposed building a new addiction and mental health facility at 997 W. Aurora Rd., the former Elmcroft assisted living facility.

The property is currently zoned as a nursing home and private hospital. Strong’s vision for the property, he said, is to make a judgment-free area for those in need of help for addiction, mental health, detox and other problems often considered socially taboo or unacceptable. He said that should his team receive permission, it would carry out that vision to the best of its ability.

“The New Aurora Health Center will be a serene and therapeutic sanctuary where individuals can find solace, healing and a path to lasting recovery,” Strong said. “We assure you that we will comply with all local regulations, maintain the highest standards of care, and uphold the integrity of the property and the community in which the property is located.”

The township does not currently have an addiction help facility of this kind, Strong said.

Sagamore Hills’ zoning code does not include regulations for the type of facility Strong is looking to construct. According to commission chair Dr. David Koncal, it could be over a year before the zoning process allows for Strong’s facility, even if that process goes quickly.

Still, Strong believed the facility to be extremely important to the public, especially in an area such as Northeast Ohio.

“Many communities throughout the country are facing devastation due to the surge of accidental overdoses involving substance use. Ohio, specifically [northeast] Ohio ranks as one of the top 10 states experiencing the unnecessary loss of life,” Strong said. “Our organization will operate as a mental health [and] substance abuse detox and recovery center that aims to create a serene and therapeutic environment conducive to recovery, healing and personal growth.”

He added that New Aurora Health Center has a nurse practitioner that would be a part of the on-site staff daily, but not 24/7. “There are registered nurses and there are LPNs, and there are assistant caregivers. Each of those … are required to have certain training,” said Strong.

Should he receive approval for a zoning change and building construction, Strong said the new facility would include both inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health services.

No decision was made on the zoning request. ∞