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Senior care facility to replace campground

NORTH LIBERTY– A long-established local campground is slated to become housing for the elderly.
Owners of Colony Country RV Park, located along West Forevergreen Road on North Liberty’s southern edge, sold the property and posted notice of its permanent closing on June 1.
The new owners of the property, developer Mike Bails and partners of JTB, LLC, Senior Housing, have filed a request with the city to rezone the property from C-RV (Commercial Recreational Vehicle) to RM-12, in order to build a residential senior care facility that will include both medically-assisted and non-assisted units.
While the new zoning carries a multi-family classification, it allows for a variety of uses, including nursing homes. Though other types of uses are also allowed, City Planner Dean Wheatley said this rezoning is tied specifically to the developer’s stated intentions for a senior living facility. Therefore, the rezoning will not be okayed until the developer files an approved site plan showing only that type of project.
In May 2012, a Kansas-based development group proposed a skilled nursing facility near the intersection of Kansas Avenue and Jones Boulevard in North Liberty, but the council declined to support that request, generally stating it was not a good location for such a venture.
Bailes and development partner Julie Dancer, both of Lepic-Kroeger Realtors, approached the council last fall to propose another senior care facility primarily for dementia patients, to be located near the University of Iowa Community Credit Union’s new financial center off Jones Boulevard, but council was also hesitant to encourage that effort due to the site.
In May, Bailes returned before the council with the newest proposal, and Wheatley told city officials in a memo that the location at the former campground was a good spot for this type of project. Previous plans to develop the property near the Fox Valley residential development had met with resistance from neighbors, Wheatley noted.
“When the larger Fox Valley development was originally considered by the city years ago, this portion was proposed for traditional multi-family development, but that plan was strongly objected to by area residents and the rezoning there eventually dropped from council consideration. Subsequently, the site has continued to be used as an RV park,” Wheatley wrote.
However, an informational meeting held for residents along Forevergreen Road and a good neighbor meeting in February each were attended by about seven or eight people, and no objections were voiced at either meeting. Further, Wheatley said, utilities are readily available, and its location near the two arterial streets of Forevergreen Road and Jones Boulevard will minimize traffic conflicts. A senior living facility will likely generate less traffic than a multi-family residential development anyway, Wheatley said.
“While there may be quite a number of people here, the characteristics aren’t the same because it’s folks who won’t normally get up and go to work in the morning and come back at 5 (o’clock),” Wheatley told the North Liberty Planning & Zoning Commission in April.
The facility is anticipated to provide three different levels of care: independent living, assisted living, and care for patients with conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
At the April 1 Planning & Zoning meeting, Bails said he was unsure of the number of units to be built; more details will be forthcoming when the site plan is filed. Bails said the developers plan to work with existing topography and create a custom design to make the facility as appealing as possible. Construction is expected to begin next year.