The Jefferson City Council will vote on final plans for a proposed skilled nursing facility and preschool, which contains changes that address some concerns from surrounding residents.
The City Council will hold a public hearing Sept. 5 for the final Planned Unit Development plan. A PUD plan allows area residents to see and comment on what is being planned for the area.
The plan proposes demolishing two single-family houses on the west side of Vieth Drive, north of Colonial Hills Road, to construct an 8,000-square-foot skilled nursing facility, 1,800-square-foot maintenance building to the west and 6,500-square-foot preschool on the south side of the property. A playground will also be constructed.
During a June public hearing, residents expressed concerns about the excess noise. The final PUD plan proposes increasing the buffer yards' width to provide more screening from the property and surrounding residences.
The west buffer yard will be a minimum of 50 feet wide — the preliminary plan proposed a 25-foot buffer yard — and the preschool would be located about 125 feet from the west property line. The south buffer yard would be 30 feet wide and contain a row of evergreen trees along the southern property line; the preliminary plan proposed a 25-foot buffer yard and did not mention trees. The east buffer yard, which was not mentioned in the preliminary plan, will be at least 40 feet and will contain evergreen trees between the hospice facility and Vieth Drive.
Jefferson City Senior Planner Eric Barron said the playground would also be closer to the preschool building, away from the southern property line, to help lessen the noise.
Cindy Juckette, co-owner of Jefferson City Manor Skilled Nursing, located north of the property, is working on a contract to purchase the property from Debra and Ralph Rankins. She said she wants the preschool and nursing home close to each other so children can interact with nursing home residents, as she believes allowing inter-generational contact could help children learn more about history and acceptance.
"I think it teaches them young that (someone is) still just another person, and that may help society as far as bullying people who are different than you in school," she said. "It could help teach kids because they don't even see (disabilities). When they start actual kindergarten, and say you have someone in a wheelchair in your class, they might not even see that wheelchair anymore because they've been in these nursing homes and seen people in them, and it makes them not see that disability."
The preschool would have a maximum enrollment of 99 children, but that does not mean there will be that many children. Juckette said the reasoning behind designing a building for 99 children is so she does not have to resubmit a PUD plan to the Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission.
"I could very well just build a building for 50, and that may be all we need, but I needed to make sure I had enough space so that I wouldn't have to go through the full process again," Juckette said.
The City Council narrowly passed the preliminary plan and rezoning request from the Rankins in June after the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously passed them. About 3.25 acres on the west side of Vieth Drive was rezoned from RS-2 Single Family Residential to a PUD. Since the property was zoned as RS-2 Single Family Residential, a preschool or nursing facility couldn't be constructed on it.
Council members Carlos Graham, Larry Henry, Mark Schreiber and Laura Ward voted against the proposal.
Graham is the sponsor on the preliminary and final PUD plans. At the June council meeting, Graham said he voted against the bill because of safety concerns expressed by residents.
During the June public hearing, some residents said they were worried about children's safety because of an increase in traffic and students walking to Cedar Hill Elementary School crossing the driveway entrance to the proposed preschool and nursing facility.
Juckette said she will contact the Missouri Department of Transportation to discuss ways to address these safety concerns.
Residents also said they were worried about stormwater issues in the area. The preliminary and final PUD plans proposed a stormwater basin to help with drainage.
"I didn't mind changing anything if it helps whatever their concerns were," Juckette said. "You can't please everybody, but I tried. I wanted to respect everybody who has been there for a really long time."
A parking lot would be constructed to serve the preschool and nursing facility, and access to the parking lot would be through a reconstructed driveway on the south side of the property and a shared driveway with Jefferson City Manor.
Juckette said she has a plan in case the final PUD plan does not pass Sept. 5, but she was not ready to discuss it yet.