40-unit nursing facility proposed for vacant plot

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By Emile Hallez

  A specialized nursing home that would treat patients suffering from neurological trauma could soon be under construction in South Jeffco.

Representatives from Care Meridian, which operates 16 such facilities in a handful of states, met with about 20 local residents March 30 to address concerns, including the potential for increased traffic and noise pollution.

“It’s going to be designed with a residential look and a residential feel to it,” said Keith Underwood, whose company, the Cirrus Group, is developing the site. “We would like to be under construction before the winter.”

The one-story, 40-room facility would include at least 35 parking spaces and is planned for construction at 12400 W. Bowles Ave., a parcel surrounded by residential developments. The land is currently owned by a local church and is zoned for church activities. Care Meridian has submitted a zoning application to the county, and part of the approval process includes meeting with residents.

Jeffco earlier approved an application by a different company to build a four-story age-restricted housing development on the land. That company did not follow through with its plans, and a permit was never finalized.

“They just let their approval expire,” said Jeanne Shaffer, a Jeffco planner.

Regarding the latest development proposal, neighbors voiced concerns with potentially obstructed views, tall light posts, noise during trash removal and other issues.

“Our outside areas look park-like,” said Care Meridian president Jim Ashby.

Though part of the building could be only 50 feet from the nearest property line, tasteful design and detailed landscaping would make the facility minimally intrusive, he said. Rather than building a fence around parts of the property, a dense line of trees could instead be used as a “green screen,” Ashby said.

The planned facility would be different from other nursing facilities, representatives said. The company treats patients of diverse ages, and levels of care vary depending on the severity of injuries. Some patients are able to recover and return home, while others with more debilitating trauma may live at the facility indefinitely.

“This is not a traditional nursing home,” said chief development officer Dan Larson. “We’re focused on medically complex patients. … We’re not an acute facility.”

But the specific goal of getting patients to take walks outside the building is motivation to make the surrounds as serene as possible, he said. And the building would be designed to blend with local neighborhoods.

“Everything we do is as non-institutional as possible,” Larson said. “It’s kind of a house on steroids. “… Our goal is to get patients outside. If they go outside, they get less infections.

We like to win the neighborhood award for best landscaping.”

Trash bins would likely be located away from the neighboring townhomes, representatives said.

And due to the specific nature of the business, ambulances would not be arriving during late hours. Obtrusive signs would also not be used outside of the facility as an advertising tool, Ashby said.

“We don’t use signage or other things to get traffic,” he said, adding that Care Meridian nursing homes regularly treat out-of-state patients. The business also frequently gets referrals from Craig Hospital in Denver, he said.

Though ground-level lighting outside the building was favored, the parking lot may require taller light posts. And whether a traffic light will be added at West Bowles and South Wright Street depends on the amount of increased traffic once the building has opened.

Most of the residents appeared reassured by the presentation, some complimenting the group on a sketch of the planned facility and the appearance of its other buildings.

“Everything about the facility is designed to make it feel like home,” Ashby said. “We think this area is a very nice place. … This might be the nicest site we have.”


Contact Emile Hallez Williams at emile@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22. For updates, check www.ColumbineCourier.com.