Care center to expand facility

Island Health and Rehabilitation would add a new three-story wing.

A Winslow health care facility hopes to more than double in size, adding a three-story annex and 44 new parking spots to its Madison Avenue facility.

Representatives of Wisconsin-based Extendicare Health Services, which operates Island Health and Rehabilitation Center, discussed their plans Thursday with city of Bainbridge Hearing Examiner Meredith Getches.

The group seeks a conditional use permit to sidestep residential zoning rules that limit structure size on part of the property. The proposed new wing would be built behind the existing one-story building, and would include additional emergency access points from Wallace Way.

Under present rules, new health care structures built in residential areas are limited to 50 percent of the allowable lot coverage.

Under the requested exception, the entire building would comply with rules in the Madison Avenue Overlay District. This would allow more units, and a roof height boost from 25 feet to 30 feet.

The center, which provides intensive nursing care, plans to add 55 new apartment units for patrons who are more independent. The facility will also add more than a dozen new staffers.

City planners approved the project after Extendicare promised measures that would lessen the building’s impact on the surrounding area.

Extendicare plans to build a wood fence and plant numerous trees and shrubs to block automobile sound and parking lot lighting. The facility’s design features multiple shades of siding and protruding gables to break up the visual elements of the building.

“The changes made to make it more on a residential scale are appropriate,” said city planner Josh Machen.

Two nearby residents turned out at the hearing to express their concerns about tree preservation and parking-lot lighting.

Robert Gummer of Extendicare said no trees would be removed on the west side of the property line, where most nearby residents border the property. He also promised shaded lighting to diffuse exposure nearby.

One resident asked why 44 parking spots where being added to the existing 35, when few new staff will be added and few center residents have cars.

Gummer said the additional spots are necessary during shift changes, when staff are on-site to clock-in and clock-out for the same position.

“It sounds like we’re overstating our parking needs, but that’s not the case,” said Extendicare’s Bill Bryan. “Parking is a challenge today and it’s the shift changes that really get you.”

The hearing examiner plans to issue her decision on the permit by mid-May.

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