BELPRE - Belpre City Council Monday approved the first reading to rezone property to allow a nursing home and assisted living facility to be built.
Bryan Casey, with Continuing Healthcare Solutions of Coolville, told members of council and the public who attended a public hearing prior to the council meeting about the proposed facility on the west end of Hill Street.
The company, which owns the 48 acres, asked the city to rezone the property from R-1 to R-2 to allow for the construction of the more than 50 bed live-in and 12 assisted living units facility.
"We are looking to develop the land into a nursing facility with an attached assisted living facility," Casey said.
The facility would add about 75 full-time jobs to the city and would take a year to build following groundbreaking.
Members of council and the neighborhood voiced concern about the road access because there is only one way to get to the property. If there were to be an emergency, there might be an issue, they noted.
Mayor Mike Lorentz said the access likely would not be a problem.
"I don't want to develop a piece of ground that no one wants to get to," Lorentz said. "There is a total of 48 acres that can be developed in that area and need to have a reason to attract development there."
The mayor said he knows that the Ohio Department of Transportation has been reached about the possibility of opening access from Braun Road to Farson Street, which would give a second access to the property in question.
"There is a letter in play about this with ODOT and has apparently been in play for years," Lorentz said. "I am hoping it is that simple."
With the first reading passed, the second reading will be Nov. 26 and the final reading will be Dec. 10.
The change in zoning is expected to be enacted on Jan. 9, 2013. At that point the procedure to begin construction can begin, said council president Will Neff.
In other business
Council defeated a request for rezoning of property at 405 John St. from C-3 to C-2 following discussions.
"As elected officials of the city, I think it is our job to do what the citizens want us to do," said Councilman Larry Martin. "I have been given letters from multiple sources that would prefer the property remain a C-3."
Martin said residents of the neighborhood in question had written letters requesting they remain confidential, but stating they had multiple concerns about the changing of the zoning, which would continue to include commercial marine use, but also automobile and other commercial uses.
"There are multiple residents expressing the same concerns," he said.
Neff, who is a former safety-service director for the city, said he was not surprised residents did not want their names known to be against the rezoning.
"It is always a difficult situation," Neff said. "This isn't our first rodeo and has happened a few times before."
The issue was voted down by everyone but at-large council members Bob Wallace and Susan Abdella, who abstained from the vote because the owner of the property is her uncle.
Council voted to cancel the Dec. 24 regular council meeting because of the Christmas holiday.