In partnership with Creative Living for Life, an affiliate of Medina Creative Housing, the sisters are proposing to build a creative housing development for individuals with disabilities on a three-acre parcel adjacent to Merici Crossings. The proposed site plan includes 25 single-story homes as well as a small community center where the residents could gather for activities. These small one- or two-bedroom homes would provide permanent housing for the residents. Parking would be minimal since most of the residents do not drive, and landscaping would provide a significant buffer between this development and neighbors.
Since the property is zoned U-2 for public buildings, this use requires a "variance of use" from the city. Creative Living for Life and the Ursuline Sisters have urged the city to approve the variance, since the project is an extension of the existing use – the sisters have lived on the property since 1958 – and the missions of the two organizations are closely aligned.
The Ursuline Sisters’ mission is “transforming society through contemplation, justice and compassion” – a mission that all 128 sisters strive to live out as individuals. After carefully reviewing the permitted uses under the city’s revised code for U-2 properties, we concluded that none of the permitted uses fit as well with our mission and values as this Creative Living project.
Parents of potential residents have told us how important this project is to them, so they can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing their loved ones will have a permanent place to live when their families are no longer able to care for them. And there simply is not enough quality housing available for this population. We believe strongly that providing housing for individuals with disabilities is a social justice issue – that they, like everyone else, deserve an opportunity to live in a safe neighborhood, where they can live as independently as possible.
We chose a location very close to Merici Crossings so our sisters can be involved with the residents. Members of our community have worked with individuals with disabilities in the past, and we have welcomed them to our campus in a variety of ways. Several sisters have expressed a desire to spend time with residents – perhaps cooking with them, driving them to appointments, serving as personal advocates, or assisting them in other ways.
We as Ursuline Sisters believe that where one sister ministers, we are ALL present, bringing our mission to all who are served. That’s also why the sisters agreed to use the money we would have received from a lease for this project to purchase two housing units, and offer permanent homes to two individuals who would not otherwise have the means to live here. As a result, we will not make any money on this project.
We believe strongly in the mission of Creative Living for Life. This is a social justice issue, an extension of our mission, and will continue the Ursuline Sisters’ legacy here in Pepper Pike.
Q: I’ve heard the project referred to as “Medina Creative Housing” and “Creative Living for Life.” What is the difference?
A: Medina Creative Housing is a 501(c)3 organization which provides quality housing, services and supports to enable individuals with disabilities to live their lives with dignity and opportunity. Creative Living for Life is a 501(c)3 organization that develops privatized housing for individuals with disabilities, with a model of sustainability and quality of life for its residents, and peace of mind for their families. The development in Pepper Pike will be called “Creative Living for Life at Ursuline Sisters.”
Q: Will this project require public funding, like other Medina Creative Housing projects in other communities?
A: No. This project will be privately funded. The families of residents are purchasing the units, and the Ursuline Sisters have agreed to purchase two units to offer permanent homes to two individuals who would not otherwise have the means to live here. As a result, the sisters will not make any money on this project.
Q: Why couldn’t you build fewer units so this project meets Pepper Pike’s density standards?
Pepper Pike’s zoning code does not designate any district in the city for the housing and density that would best suit the needs of this population, to make it both safe for the residents and financially feasible. This proposal includes 25 compact single-story homes that are semi-detached, presenting the appearance of single family homes. From the street, each cluster of small homes would appear to be a ranch house, comparable to those in the surrounding neighborhood. At one time, almost 500 sisters claimed 2600 Lander Road as the center of community life and ministries, so the density for this project is considerably below the historic use of this property.
Q: Why request a variance instead of rezoning the property?
A: A variance has been requested because Creative Living for Life would continue the historic residential use of the property and its use for mission-based activities. Even though the new language in the city’s code for U-2 properties does not allow for residential use, the Ursuline Sisters have lived on the property for more than 60 years. In addition, the Pepper Pike zoning code does not include a designation appropriate for this type of housing. Given the community’s stated support for this type of housing within the city, a variance is appropriate to satisfy both the need and the location for this project.
Q: Won’t the presence of so many developmentally disabled individuals cause safety and security issues for nearby residents?
A: No. In fact, Creative Living for Life provides wrap-around services for residents so they receive the support they need to live as independently as they can. Each resident will receive direct care based on their individual needs, and that care will vary from several hours a day to as much as around-the-clock care. Their safety and the safety of others in the neighborhood are always our top priorities. In many ways, these are the best neighbors you could have. They work, volunteer, or attend programs during the day, and participate in social activities within their housing community in the evenings.