By Linda Dillman
A Canal Winchester property, bordered by residential housing and once proposed as a condominium development, is now up for consideration as a rehabilitation and extended care nursing facility.
The MacIntosh Company, which operates healthcare facilities in New Albany, Columbus, Circleville, Grove City and Hilliard, is asking the city of Canal Winchester for approval of a 125-bed facility, 87,000 square-foot two-story complex on an open site east of Gender Road and south of Foxhill Drive.
A preliminary site plan was recommended for approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission and up for a public hearing and the first of three readings by city council on June 1.
“The applicant is asking for a new development text and preliminary development plan,” said Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire. “This is the first step in the process. Next would be a final development plan.”
The complex, designed to reflect the rural farming heritage of the area with architecture influenced by barn structures, includes 90 beds for skilled nursing care, 35 beds for assisted care, dining halls, common areas, a theatre, salon, fitness and rehabilitation centers and a pond framed by a path.
According to an analysis of the proposal by city staffers, over half of the site would be open and landscaped. The majority of a wooded area to the south of the property would be preserved and the facility is expected to have little impact on current traffic patterns on Gender Road.
The report noted most of the facility’s residents do not drive their own vehicles, so the majority of access to the site would be from staff members and residents’ guests.
There were still concerns by the city, neighbors and the township fire department regarding parking, landscaping, building height and emergency access.
“The applicant took time to meet with neighbors and that resulted in changes to the plan,” said Haire. “One of the biggest changes was the parking area relocated from the rear of the building. Another concern that came up was the height is limited to 35 feet. The applicant is proposing a small portion would have 39 feet. The rest of the building would be 35 feet or below.”
Neighboring property owner Nick Grilli previously filed an appeal against the proposal. He said, “This is clearly a public use, public facility and will generate a whole host of issues.”
Although Grilli admitted the revised plan, to some extent, diminished the severity of some of his concerns, he continued to raise issues with the location, noise levels, screening and mounding, and noted the proliferation of nursing homes in the city.
However, Kurt Fausler, whose property borders the 7.45-acre parcel, said, in general he is happy with the improvements proposed by the company.
“There’s a lot of effort in that regard,” Fausler said. “I think this is great for the community and I don’t have an opposition compared to what could go in there. In general, I think this is great for the community. It is very good for this neighborhood.”