A rezoning plan that will allow an expansion of Miller's Merry Manor will go before the Bartholomew County Commissioners next week.
The Bartholomew County Plan Commission recommended approval of the rezoning request by Miller's Health Systems at the commission's meeting on May 10th.
The company asked the county to rezone just over four acres of property on County Roads 500N and 825E, from agricultural uses to allow for multi-family residential zoning. That will allow the company to construct a 2,500 square foot addition and to renovate 4,200 square feet of the existing nursing home facility, according to the company's application.
The improvements will include new therapy rooms, a dining area and a community room. It will also add 13 new parking spaces. The company, in its report to the county, said that the expansion would not add residents to the facility. The one-story expansion would be built with a brick veneer to match the existing building, which was constructed in the 1960s.
The county planning department recommended approval of the request as long as the permitted use of the property was limited to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Without that limitation, the changed zoning would allow up to 25 homes per acre, according to a report from the planning department.
"If the site was fully developed, with multi-family residential, then that would allow for 104 dwelling units on this property," said Emilie Pinkston, of the county planning department. "That led to one of our issues about limiting use of the property."
County Commissioner Rick Flohr, a member of the county plan commission, asked if Miller's would be able to expand without the rezoning and Pinkston said that nursing homes are not allowed under the current agricultural zoning. The company would have to apply for a special use to get approval if the rezoning is not approved, and then would have to come back again for any other further changes to the facility.
Troy Clements, representing Miller's Merry Manor, explained the project to the plan commission.
"The intention here is to create a larger dining space, for our residents, as well as a new therapy gym," Clements said.
"Also a community room which will be used mostly by our families. Also community rooms in our company are used by the community as well."
He said that groups like Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs meet in the community rooms of the company's other facilities.
Clements said that Miller's has a license for up to 75 beds, but only has 70 now and most of those are generally full.
The nursing home was originally built in 1973, according to the planning department's report, but there was no record of it being officially approved under the current zoning until 2003, when an addition was constructed. At that time, it was zoned as a suburban residential district which allowed nursing homes as a conditional use. The company's report indicated that a nursing home has been at the location for about 50 years.
The county plan commission voted 8-0 to recommend the county commissioners approve the request.
Jeff Bergman, director of the Columbus/Bartholomew County Planning Department said that the proposal will go for consideration by the commissioners with that positive recommendation on Tuesday, May 30th. The commissioners normally meet on Mondays, but the meeting is delayed a day due to the Memorial Day holiday.