The Great Bend City Council Monday night approved a rezoning request from Richard “Scott” Reddig and learned about investors’ plans to develop a nursing home facility on the southwest end of town. Great Bend residents who live in the Anchor Way subdivision voiced concerns but did learn more about plans for the land, which is located in the three-mile radius surrounding the city.
Redding originally requested the rezoning of two parcels of real estate but later modified his request to one parcel that is about 40 acres. Ten acres would be for a multi-million dollar project that was described as “a continuing care retirement community,” by Mark Mingenback, who spoke on behalf of SunPorch, a non-profit company that has built nursing homes, assisted living apartments and senior living quarters in Dodge City, Lincoln, Colby and Smith Center, he said.
The Great Bend project would be financed by private investors and might have to be done in phases. It would include a nursing home, assisted living apartments and apartments for senior citizens, and would employ 50 people or more.
Great Bend City Attorney Robert Suelter said that Redding was initially not at liberty to say who or what kind of business was looking at the land, which contributed to residents’ concerns. “Various complaints were made about this,” he said. Concerns included increased traffic and the condition of the roads. But people had also heard rumors that left them concerned for their safety. “There was a rumor that it would have people out of Larned State Hospital,” and inadequate security, Suelter said. That is not the case.
“If people live to be 85 years old, half of them will need some kind of senior care,” Mingenback said. The company’s goal is to improve the lives of these elders, he said.
Residents at Monday’s meeting seemed receptive to the news but still had concerns. There have already been hearings on this zoning request, but a few people were allowed to speak or ask questions on Monday.
“It’s the rest of (the land) I think we’re all concerned about,” one woman said.
Attorney Mark Calcara said he represents some of the people in that neighborhood.
“That looks like a great complex,” Calcara said of the SunPorch project. “But that still leaves open a significant amount of tract up there. ... We’d certainly like an opportunity to discuss this. It’s open to all kind of things that we don’t have a clue about — things that don’t fit into the residential nature. The rest of that needs to be studied better.”
Councilman Brock McPherson noted that the zoning board had already recommended it. “I think we need to support our committee, adopt the resolution and move on,” he said.
It passed with an 8-0 vote.
The Planning Commission had already conducted a public hearing on May 22, which was adjourned after a special meeting was scheduled for June 19, Suelter said. At the June 19 meeting, that also included a public hearing, Reddig indicated he was modifying his request to only the one piece of property.
After the hearing was closed, the commission adopted the findings of fact and supplemental findings of fact and recommended that the council approve the amended rezoning request.
Monday, the governing body didn’t have to hold a public hearing, but had three options:
• Adopt the recommendation by ordinance.
• Override the Planning Commission’s recommendation by a two-thirds majority vote of the membership of the governing body (six votes).
• Return such recommendation to the Planning Commission with a statement specifying the basis for the Governing Body’s failure to approve or disapprove.
In the end, the council accepted the commission’s recommendation, adopted the findings of fact and supplemental findings of fact as recommended by city staff and adopted by the Planning Commission.