Planning Commission asks assisted care facility for better design

By: Terry Oparka, | Troy Times | Published April 19, 2017

TROY — The Troy Planning Commission asked a developer to come back with a different design for a 244-bed skilled nursing facility on 8.23 acres at the southwest corner of Maple and Axtell roads. 

Troy Senior Leasing asked the Planning Commission at its April 11 meeting to consider preliminary site plans for the facility in an industrial/business district that would be located on the site of the now-vacant McGregor’s manufacturing plant, which was approved for a 248-unit apartment complex in 2014. 

The proposed facility would include assisted living and a memory care unit. 

Ben Carlisle, of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, described the project as a “significant presence on Maple Road” and recommended approval with conditions including: reducing the number of beds by five, adjusting parking to at least a 20-foot backyard setback, providing a sidewalk from Maple Road and addressing any design conditions the Planning Commission raised. 

Roy Baker, of NSA Architects, spokesman for the developer, said the firm has designed about 10 skilled nursing facilities. He described the proposed design as urban contemporary with a residential feel.

“We’re trying not to make it look like a hospital,” he said. 

Ciena Healthcare would operate the proposed skilled nursing center, and it opened a center in Shelby Township in August of 2015. Planning Commissioner Karen Crusse told the Planning Commission that four Ciena facilities settled a lawsuit in 2007 brought forth by the Michigan attorney general for $1.25 million. In court documents, it states that the centers failed to meet the needs of residents for nutrition and hydration, ulcer care, fall prevention and management, care planning and nursing interventions, medication management, and prevention and treatment of wounds. 

“It’s a valid concern raised by Ms. Crusse,” said Troy Assistant City Attorney Julie Quinlan Dufrane. “If this body is not comfortable, it makes sense to have someone (a principal from Ciena) come in to address your concern.” 

“This is a serious issue — the potential future management of the facility,” said Troy Planning Director R. Brent Savidant. 

“There are 500 regulations in every facility that are reviewed by a third party,” Baker said. “They pass with flying colors.” 

Principals from Ciena Healthcare could not be reached for further comment before press time.

“Our purview doesn’t get beyond the building ordinance,” said Planning Commissioner John Tagle. He said the other issues would fall under the state guidelines and that other businesses proposing site plans are not subject to the same level of scrutiny. 

However, Tagle said he was not impressed with the plans presented. 

“This does not come across as noninstitutional. I’m underwhelmed with the presentation here,” he said. 

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to postpone consideration of the site plan to give the developer a chance to come back with a different design. 

“This was a healthy discussion,” Savidant said. “You came to the right conclusion.”