Overland Park & Leawood

Two small health care facilities approved in Overland Park

Two proposals went before city officials Monday for new Overland Park facilities that would provide care for patients with non-critical maladies or who are recovering from a hospital stay.

Proposals for a micro-hospital and a skilled nursing facility in the area near Shawnee Mission Health, 9100 W. 74th St., were heard by the city council and planning commission at separate meetings Monday. Although some neighbors voiced concerns, both plans ultimately met with approval.

The planning commission recommended approval of a special-use permit for Sunbelt Healthcare Centers to put a 120-bed skilled nursing facility at the address of the former McEachen Administrative Center of the Shawnee Mission School District, 7235 Antioch Road. Sunbelt and the nearby Shawnee Mission Health are both members of the Adventist Care Center network, based in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

The $20 million project would have about 85,000 square feet of floor space in two levels on the 4.6-acre property. It’s an increase in floor space from the McEachen building, which was built in 1967 with about 38,000 square feet, but has only one story. The McEachen building would be razed, said Jody Barry, vice president of facilities and construction for Adventist.

Barry said the facility would provide post-acute care and therapy for people who don’t belong in a larger hospital but are not ready to be on their own.

“It’s part of a system of continuum of care,” he explained in an earlier interview. “For instance if your grandma falls and breaks a hip. After surgery, she clinically doesn’t need to be at a hospital but can’t quite walk yet.”

The building will be a similar size to the Overland Park Rehabilitation Center and Trinity Rehabilitation Center in Merriam, he said.

After public discussion and comments from neighbors, the commission recommended approval for a special-use permit allowing the new land use. However, neighbors are rounding up signatures for a protest petition.

Most of those who spoke said the proposed building would not fit in with the residential neighborhood. Among their concerns were parking lot lighting, noise and increased traffic from the facility, which would be open around the clock.

Jean Teel of Overland Park, who lives a few houses away, said the noise from generators and air-handling systems at Shawnee Mission Health bothers many neighbors, and that full-service hospital is farther away than the skilled nursing facility would be.

Others disliked the taller building, which they said would dominate the view from their own back yards. They also said the developer had not made enough effort to notify neighbors across the street in Merriam.

Adrienne Maples Hacker of Merriam said the facility would hurt the residential feel of the neighborhood.

“I just don’t see that we have this need for this particular facility in this neighborhood,” Hacker said. “It will continue to drive out young families like myself.”

Darrell Steiner of Overland Park questioned the need for another health-care facility in an area that already has many. If the business plan fails, it will be hard to find another use for the building, he said.

The developers countered that they have taken steps to address neighborhood concerns after meeting with nearby residents a few weeks ago, Barry said. The traffic should not increase over the amount it had as a school administration building, since the employees will work in shifts, he said. Visitors are expected to come and go mostly during normal business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., he said.

Modifications also were made to provide a bigger landscape buffer of 25 feet on the two sides that face homes, he said.

The planning commission unanimously sent the proposal on to the city council for consideration at its Oct. 17 meeting.

Micro hospital approved

Later Monday, the city council approved land use for a “micro hospital” near the corner of 75th Street and Metcalf Avenue. That plan, by Embree Asset Group, is for an eight-bed facility to take care of patients who need overnight observation.

The one-story building would be about 17,000 square feet on the northwest corner of 75th and Marty streets, just west of Metcalf. The existing businesses on the site will be cleared, including an automotive repair shop and a nightclub. Jim Kilroy’s Roxy Bar features live music, disc jockeys and bills itself as one of the longest-running music venues in the Kansas City area. It was the scene of the fatal shooting in February of Olathe rapper Jurl Carter.

The plan met with some skepticism from city council members, who questioned the need for more health facilities in the area and who pressed Embree spokesman Steven Kirkpatrick for the name of the group that would run the hospital. Kirkpatrick said he cannot disclose the future tenant yet.

Council member Dave Janson questioned the applicant closely on the health-care niche the new facility would fill. Micro-hospitals are a relatively new idea, and although Embree has also proposed facilities in Leawood and Roeland Park, none is yet up and running.

Janson also did not like the fact that the tenant has not been publicly identified.

Neighbors also objected to this plan. Jane Clark of Overland Park said she thought most patients belong in a full hospital. She also questioned who the clients would be.

“I just don’t think this is anything Overland Park needs, whatsoever,” she said. “In fact I have a good idea that not telling who the client is and all that is just hiding an abortion clinic.”

Embree’s legal representative at the hearing, Curtis Holland, later clarified that the hospital would not be an abortion provider.

Another resident, Cheri Hannon of Overland Park, said she’d prefer the area be developed to be more in tune with the walkable, landscaped retail put forth in the city’s Vision Metcalf plan.

Bar owner Jim Kilroy urged the council to make a decision soon so he could begin to plan his business’s future. He said it is still too early to know whether or where the bar might relocate.

Council member Terry Goodman pointed out that land-use decisions are not based on whether the council sees a demand for a particular business.

“The bottom line for me very simply is, is this an appropriate land use? I’ve not heard much discussion about it not being an appropriate land use,” he said.

The council approved the special-use permit for the facility 9-2, with Janson and Council member Terry Happer Scheier voting against.

Other council action

In other action, the council will discuss revisions in its regulations on communications towers at its Sept. 19 meeting.

The Kansas Legislature recently changed cities’ powers to stop communications companies from putting towers and antennas in city right-of-way.

That new law, which takes effect in October, will make it necessary for the city to change its own rules to comply. Some council members worried that the law takes power away from citizens who could end up with equipment in their front yards on city right-of-way.

The council also set a public hearing for Dec. 5 on the condition of some duplexes in the Milburn Place subdivision that could be deemed unsafe and uninhabitable. The properties owned by an absentee landlord are in the 7100 block of 69th Street and the 6900 block of Floyd Street.