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City Considering Preliminary Approval for Fenton Wellness Center

One-story, 100-bed skilled rehabilitation facility, by MediLodge, is planned off Pine Creek Drive.

Changes in the market occurred several years ago, and Pine Creek in Fenton wasn’t completed as a housing development.

With changes in the Planned Unit Development (PUD) agreement for the site, it can be developed as the a rehabilitation facility for the MediLodge group.

The Fenton Planning Commission has granted its approval for the preliminary PUD amendments, and city council is the next step, said Zoning Administrator Brad Hissong.

At the planning commission meeting on Thursday, architect Daniel DeRemer, of JW Design, presented plans for the Fenton Wellness Center, a 100-bed facility. It will be a one-story building with 80 percent private rooms and 20 percent semi-private ones, DeRemer said.

What it won’t be is, a nursing home. It’s more of a hospitality model, compared to a medical one, he said. Instead of a large dining room, for example, the center will have neighborhoods where people can gather and small living spaces. It will be a very private and personal facility, where people staying there can receive physical therapy and recuperate after knee or hip replacement, for example, DeRemer said.

As a skilled nursing facility, it will be state licensed, DeRemer said. In addition, it will have a memory care portion.

Because of the physical therapy aspect of the center, it needs more parking than usual, and there will be a lot of staff and visitors, he said. Instead of the usual one parking space per bed, Fenton Wellness Center is asking for 1.3 to 1.5 spaces per bed so no one has to park along the drives.

At other similar MediLodge facilities, including the one in Montrose, there are many visitors, DeRemer said. The facility has had weddings take place there, and a 4-star chef has provided the menu.

For the Fenton location, 159 parking spaces are proposed, with more than the required number of handicap-accessible spaces.

The facility will be located in the middle of the site, where condos were planned, DeRemer said. To the east of that, a wooded area will be maintained. In the future, MediLodge could develop extended care facilities available to seniors (to the west of the site), if the market turns around, he said.

MediLodge’s development of the site isn’t as dense as the original proposal, for Pine Creek’s housing, he said.

Issues include the number of parking spaces, said Carmine Avantini, a planning consultant for the city of Fenton. The proposed development exceeds the number of parking spaces required.

In addition, the final coat of asphalt hasn’t been added to the drive going in, Avantini said. This should be added as a condition for the city’s approval of the project.

And the plans for the site don’t show a sidewalk and crosswalk to the north of Pine Creek Drive, he said. The city should also revisit this later on the plan for the development, he believes.

Avantini recommended the city’s approval of the preliminary PUD amendment for the Fenton Wellness Center. He believes it fits in with the intent of the first PUD for the site and hopes Fenton Wellness Center will “add new energy” into the development.

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