— By CHRISTIN COYNE
WILLOW PARK – Plans for a skilled-nursing facility and assisted-living facility in Willow Park took another step forward Tuesday night.
The Willow Park Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended the city council approve a rezoning request and site plan.
The rezoning request from seller Willow Park Baptist Church would rezone more than 12 acres in the area of Crown Pointe Boulevard from single-family residential to commercial, where a skilled-nursing facility and assisted-living facility are planned. The city recently annexed the property at the request of the church.
No member of the public spoke during the public hearing on the zoning request.
The commission also recommended the council approve a site plan for the skilled nursing facility.
Robert Cramer, owner and operator of College Park Rehabilitation and Care Center in Weatherford, hopes to build a 128-bed, 54,000-square-foot facility in Willow Park to meet the area’s growing rehabilitation and long-term care needs, he told the council in March.
After some discussion, the commission also recommended the city add a use by special use permit only for “diagnostic or treatment healthcare facility or assisted living facility” to the zoning definitions.
The planning and zoning commission previously recommended the city remove a medical facility definition from the commercial zoning use table but the council has yet to address the issue.
“When we recommended to city council previously, one of the concerns that we discussed was the fact that we had an influx of [a hospital, doctors and other medical facilities],” commission member Marci Parker said. “The logic behind saying you know what lets move all that to requiring a special use permit. It doesn’t mean it’s not allowed but it gives [the city control over how many medical-based facilities locate in Willow Park].”
According to the council discussion, the action is intended to provide for development projects until the city updates the zoning plan.
The special use permit expires after two years and the city has not done a good job of bringing those back for renewal, City Administrator Matt Shaffstall said, adding that the time limit creates hinderance for those who may be looking to sign a five-year lease.
“They are caught in the churn of processes updating and the comprehensive plan being worked,” Parker said.
“I think we need to get this down the road as quickly as we can,” commission member David Fritz said.
Engineer Chuck Stark, representing the church and proposed skilled-nursing facility, asked if the commission could consider an SUP at their next meeting and Shaffstall said they should be able to do that.
Shaffstall also updated the commission on how the city has restructured the city’s development services department.
Because revenues were not matching expenses, particularly as development fee income has been lower than projected, the city decided to reduce their force by two in the department.
An employee in another department will be working part-time to receive plan review applications, according to Shaffstall.
The city’s inspection and plan review process has been moved to third-party company Bureau Veritas, which has far more certifications and qualifications than the city can provide, Shaffstall said, adding that he has worked with the company in the past and is comfortable with them.
A representative of the company told the commission the reviewer would be available if the commission has questions.
Shaffstall said he has been happy with the level of communication from the company in the past.
“Everything is more or less on triplicate carbon copy form,” Shaffstall said, adding that it is still a next-day inspection and the city will receive paperwork documenting the inspections.
Verbal confirmations until the final inspection card was a problem in the past for the city, Shaffstall said.
They also hope to cut down on mistakes on final drafts.
By the end of the 10 days in plan review, the plan should come out correct, Shaffstall said.
“That’s the idea, that we quit getting so many markups on a final draft.”
In addition to the normal fire review responsibilities, the city’s fire marshal, Brent Sauble, will be the interim building official, as well.
“Obviously the city is going to look to adding to personnel. Depending on how the economy shapes up and how the summer budget shapes up, we’ll add someone in development services but at a director level position,” Shaffstall said. “Becky was a planning tech/code officer. Jason was an inspector. We’ll probably look for someone with a little more plan review experience, a little more building official experience.”