Plans are moving forward for Gahanna to land the first Otterbein Homes Skilled Nursing & Rehab Neighborhood in central Ohio -- at 975 N. Hamilton Road.
The Gahanna Planning Commission on Dec. 19 approved an application to zone 5.4 acres from planned commercial center to suburban office, as well as a subdivision without plat to split 5.4 acres from an 11.5-acre parcel.
The site faces North Hamilton Road and abuts Beecher Road on the north. The project site is an undeveloped lot that is vacant and heavily treed.
A public hearing on the matter, with favorable recommendation from the commission, will be held at Gahanna City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Planning and zoning administrator Bonnie Gard said the development would include five houses with 10 beds in each, for a total of 50 residents.
Otterbein currently operates five senior-living communities, five small-house neighborhoods and a home-health agency in Ohio. The skilled-nursing locations are in Middletown, Maineville, Monclova, Perrysburg and Springboro.
In keeping with Otterbein's United Methodist tradition, applicant Sue McConn previously told the commission that a mission is to enhance the quality of life and holistic growth of older persons.
McConn, vice president of Otterbein Small House Neighborhoods, said institutionalizing elders doesn't enhance quality of living, but a home enhances quality of life.
Instead of traditional-style nursing-home facilities, Otterbein facilities include actual homes for multiple residents.
Scott Seaman, of W.E. Stilson Consulting Group, provided the commission with a traffic-access study for the parcel. He said the development would generate a relatively low number of trips on a peak-hour and daily basis, even with the conservative analysis of 100 beds (versus the 50 proposed).
Seaman said the access study shows that the proposed Otterbein neighborhood, as outlined in its final development plan, would provide acceptable levels of service and traffic operations for its two access-drive intersections on Hamilton Road during the 10-year analysis time frame. He recommends a 100-foot northbound-lane left turn, providing a minimum 50 feet of lane storage and a 50-foot diverging taper.
Gard said the traffic study was conducted to make sure the development wouldn't affect Hamilton Road adversely.
The commission still will consider a final development plan and certificate of appropriateness for Otterbein Homes.
Commission member David Thom said he supports the zoning, and the ingress and egress would be determined later when considering the final development.
"Otterbein Homes has a nice application," he said. "It fits the property. It's good usage for the property along Hamilton Road."
Commission member David Andrews said Otterbein would be good neighbors and good for Gahanna.
"We need senior-citizen housing in Gahanna," he said. "I think it's a good addition for Gahanna."
He said the alternative with the current zoning would allow a shopping center that could bring more traffic and noise.
Commission chair Jennifer Price said she's pleased with how the process has played out for the Otterbein application.
"There were discussions about many things, even not related to this parcel," she said. "I think this is a wonderful development. I'm pleased to see this approach to nursing care. The care that can be provided here is wonderful."
For more about Otterbein Homes, go online to Otterbein.org.