The first step has been taken to reopen the facility that once was the Northview Nursing Home.

The first step has been taken to reopen the facility that once was the Northview Nursing Home.

According to zoning inspector Jim Blair, a newly formed Westerville-based firm, C&Z Associates, intends to purchase the 267 N. Main St. location and open a new independent- and assisted-living facility that would include a private pharmacy. The new location will be called Northfield.

The village had issued a public notice that the Planning and Zoning Commission would consider a noncorforming-use permit application for the location, and Blair said he expects the permit to be approved with no issues.

"The planning and zoning commissioners are good with everything that's been presented by C&Z Associates, but we have one more thing that we need to accomplish," Blair said. "We want them to sign a letter -- which they've already agreed to sign -- and, basically, we're looking for, in writing, a commitment that under the new noncorforming-use permit that it can never be a nursing home."

The purchase by C&Z Associates will be completed after the village's law director has added the written agreement to the nonconforming-use permit, Blair said. The issue was tabled, and a public hearing is scheduled for March 5. If the commission then approves, C&Z will be able to complete the purchase.

Council doesn't need to approve the permit, Blair said.

He said the noncorforming-use permit is necessary because Northview was shut down only recently.

The nursing home was shut down almost a year ago after a months-long legal battle with Johnstown. Some residents had complained about some of the residents there being younger and with behavioral issues. The owners at the time claimed the legal battle was too expensive to continue.

"Northview, because it sat in a residential zone district, it was under a noncorforming-use permit," Blair said. "Once you close a building for two years -- and in this case, Northview has only been gone one year -- the zoning expires. In this case, we're basically doing a continuation of the noncorforming use."

The particular type of permit would allow C&Z to use the facility for only the designed uses.

"The facility is not designed to confine people," Blair said. "What Northview had done was to start converting over to a behavioral-use facility (rather than a nursing home). In this case, all (C&Z representatives) are interested in is an assisted-living and independent-living facility. We want to be sure that if they have the property for five years or so, and they want to sell it, that it stays assisted living and independent living."

A representative from C&Z Associates was out of town and could not be reached for comment, but Blair said the new facility would be built on the same "footprint" as the former location but would undergo extensive remodeling.

The facility is expected to contain 200- 300-square-foot apartments on multiple floors and to have such public spaces as a dining room. Blair said he doubts the facility would accept new residents before 2015.