Hiram College's senior housing plans moving ahead

By Mike sever | staff writer Published:

Hiram College's plans to build a senior living complex adjacent to the campus are back on track.

The college wants to build a planned community for people 55 years and older on land it owns near campus. College President Tom Chema has said the community will attract retirees looking for independent living in a rural but intellectually vibrant location. The community would be similar to a growing number of retirement communities associated with college campuses across the country. In Ohio is Kendal at Oberlin, a nonprofit Quaker community home to some 325 older adults who can participate at events and attend classes at nearby Oberlin College.

The project was delayed for about two years by a battle over annexation of the land from Hiram Township into the village. Township trustees and some residents strenuously opposed the annexation, resulting in the longest annexation hearing in Portage County's modern history. The decision by county commissioners to refuse the annexation was appealed by the college. Ultimately the annexation and other lawsuits connected to the fight were settled by mutual agreement of the parties, allowing the project to move ahead.

Tuesday night village council heard the first reading of legislation to change zoning on some 88 acres off S.R. 700 to allow multi-family housing. The change was recommended by the village planning commission.

With only four council members present, council could not vote to pass the ordinance as emergency legislation. Council will take up the issue again at its March 12 meeting.

A public hearing on the zoning change has been set for 6 p.m. March 26, prior to council's regular finance committee meeting.

Hiram College has brought in Fairmount Properties of Cleveland to build and manage the housing. Site plans and building designs have not yet been drawn up, said college spokesman Thomas Ford.

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  • Congratulations to Tom Chema and the other Hiram College people who promoted this vision for the Hiram College and Village community. Over time this will be seen as a wonderful marriage that benefits the community (particularly those retired) and the College which provides learning programs and entertainment that enhance enjoyment and personal growth. The future in Hiram looks bright.