City considers rezoning for senior living facility

Columbus City Council has given initial approval to a developer seeking to have the city rezone and annex acreage on Columbus’ west-side for a senior living facility.

R. L. Rynard Development Corp. is seeking to develop a retirement, assisted living and nursing home facility on 29.07 acres at 6970 W. State Road 46, which is currently zoned for agriculture.

The company wants the city to rezone the slightly more than 29 acres, and annex slightly more than 45 acres at the project site.

The company is proposing to have 56 independent-living spaces in 28 units, a 50-unit assisted-living facility and a 45 room skilled-nursing facility for the project.

Gary Nienaber, owner of Nienaber Farmer’s Market and Agriculture located to the left of the property, has requested that the portion of the annexation area not being used for development be exempt from the city portion for its tax liability.

This is the second request for a senior living facility on the west side this year. The council voted to annex and rezone more than 25 acres along Goeller Boulevard for Traditions of Columbus, a proposed assisted living facility, on Feb. 19.

The Columbus Plan Commission gave a favorable recommendation to Rynard’s request at its Feb. 13 meeting. The recommendation came with several commitments, including:

Limiting the use of the property to nursing home, assisted living and retirement facilities.

Ensuring that a public street will provide access to the site and allow for future street extensions to potential development.

Ensuring any development on the property is consistent with the proposed plan.

Providing adequate buffering for an adjacent home.

Ensuring adequate green space and pedestrian connections in the development.

Providing for an adequate building setback from a gas line easement in the middle of the property.

On Feb. 13, the plan commission vote to recommend the project was not unanimous, Planning Director Jeff Bergman said.

Plan commission members said they were concerned about increased traffic and wanted more information about a gas line that goes through the middle of the property. There was also a request to see a larger master plan of the area to see how this particular facility would fit into the west side.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, some concerns were expressed about sewer services and traffic.

Merry Carmichael, founder of ABC Stewart School, 6691 State Road 46, said the school has some major concerns with the development.

“I have no doubt that the duplex apartments for those 55 and older and the nursing home is needed. I’m not against that,” Carmichael said. “I do feel that in three areas, very careful planning is going to be needed in order to avoid future problems.”

Carmichael said the area already has moderate traffic from nearby neighborhoods, Westside Community Church and ABC Stewart School. She said the area needs something more than just a slow down signal for traffic if the development is approved.

Carmichael is also concerned that the sewer in the area may overload if it is shared with the new development. She said the city may need to install a separate lift station to prevent overload.

Council member Tim Shuffett said there are currently no city services offered to the piece of land where the facility would be built. He said adding sewer services would be part of the development.

Council member Laurie Booher said she is concerned with having only one entrance and exit to the facility at State Road 46. She asked Bergman whether the Indiana Department of Transportation was aware of the development and if a stop light or roundabout could be placed the mitigate traffic concerns.

“INDOT is aware of the request,” Bergman said. “Their comments basically indicated that they would be interested in additional traffic at that location and they would work through their normal process to determine if that traffic warranted the inclusion of a stop light.”

The council will consider the requests on final reading at 6 p.m. April 2 at Columbus City Hall council chambers.