(As Reported By Weatherford Democrat)
By CHRISTIN COYNE
WILLOW PARK—As Willow Park Baptist Church congregants packed city hall two nights in a row last week, Willow Park officials approved the next step in a nursing home development in the Crown Park area.
Parking overflowed from the lot in front of city hall and many congregants stood in the back or even outside city council chambers both evenings, as the planning and zoning commission, followed by the city council Wednesday night, unanimously approved the final plat for the planned facility.
About 82 acres of land near Crown Pointe Boulevard is currently owned by Willow Park Baptist Church, which hopes to sell approximately 10 recently-annexed acres to two developers looking to build an assisted-living facility and nursing facility near the apartment complex being erected.
The plat considered by the city concerned a nursing facility planned by Robert Cramer, who currently owns and operates College Park Nursing and Rehab in Weatherford.
Cramer told the council at a prior meeting that he intends to build a 54,000-square-foot facility with 128 beds to provide both rehabilitation and long-term care services.
The Weatherford facility has been open for four years, and Cramer said they see a demand for rehabilitation services and long term nursing care in the area, and have been sending potential residents Weatherford facility waiting list to Fort Worth or other locations.
They expect to add about 120 jobs and hope to begin accepting residents at the Willow Park facility around January.
Questioned by Mayor Pro Tem Gene Martin that the plat was correct, building official Jason Penninger said the plat had no errors and fully met the city’s requirements.
During discussion, issues regarding building in a flood plain were raised by council member Dan Stalling.
However, Mayor Richard Neverdousky said those issues had to do with the site plan and would be a valid conversation at that point.
Council member Bernard Suchocki said he believes he should feel confident that everything is being addressed during the process.
The council should feel confident that the plat went through the right people and the right questions were asked and everything is fine, Suchocki said.
They shouldn’t have to ask the question that Martin asked, Suchocki said, and council member Amy Podany said she concurred with his statement.
City administrator Matt Shaffstall told the council the city is updating the process a development goes through, as was discussed in previous meetings.
“[We’re] really trying to do our due diligence in examining the process for annexation, the process for a plat, the process for zoning changes, the process for site plans,” Shaffstall said. “And along that, staff has redeveloped a new checklist style application to go with it. This application, since it was started under the old application, you can’t really change it all midstream, but it was actually completed under both.”
“I do think that helps address it,” Shaffstall added. “But I agree. I do think there are some other issues for us to talk about as far as increasing the confidence of the council, the planning and zoning commission and, ultimately, the public in the work product the staff puts out. But we can probably discuss that at another venue.”
A site plan for the facility is expected to go before the council in April.