The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Brandon Cline
Managing Editor 

Proposed memory care center takes big step forward

Development of new care center closer to reality after action taken by Ritzville City Council at July 2 meeting

 

Last updated 7/11/2019 at 10:33am

Journal photo by Jeremy Burnham

The current building that hosted the now-defunct East Adams Care Center at 506 S Jackson St. The parcel that the building lies on-as well as two other parcels near it-are being sold by East Adams Rural Healthcare to Gibraltar Senior Living, who plans on developing the property into a long-term memory care facility.

The Ritzville City Council finalized the steps the City needed to take in its role of East Adams Rural Healthcare's sale of property to Gibraltar Senior Living on July 2.

The property being exchanged between EARH and Gibraltar consists of three parcels in total; one of the parcels houses the vacant East Adams Care Center at 506 S Jackson St., and the other two parcels are located next to the care center. With the three parcels, Gibraltar plans to develop the property into a memory care center.

The city's role in the process was completed at the regular city council meeting last week, when the council unanimously agreed to approve Ordinance No. 2131, which amends the Comprehensive Plan Land Use and Zoning Map designation for the three parcels, as well as Ordinance No. 2132, which approves a conditional use permit for the parcels. EARH and Gibraltar agreed to a conditional purchase and sale agreement in July of 2018, part of which required the property being properly re-zoned and annexed into the city.

The three parcels were re-designated from Single-Family Residential (R-1) to High Density Residential (R-3). Taudd Hume, an attorney who has been representing EARH throughout the process, said an R-3 zoning designation is the most logical category to use.

"If you were to zone it R-1 or a number of other zoning options that you have, you create a non-conforming use," said Hume. From a land-use perspective, Hume said that landowners generally want to avoid creating non-conforming uses because the owners of that property often have a more difficult time getting financed by banks, because banks don't like lending to things that are uncertain.

At a previous city council meeting in May, the council approved the annexation of the two vacant parcels that do not house the care center building into the City. The annexation was required so the parcels could be properly given an R-3 zoning designation. According to the City's zoning map, the three parcels are the only property that has been given an R-3 designation on that side of 1st Avenue.

Rhonda DeVito, a business development consultant for Gibraltar, made a brief statement thanking Mayor Gary Cook, Clerk-Treasurer Julie Flyckt and the council for their cooperation over the past several months. "Today was a good meeting, and I think things are going to move forward much quicker now."

In its rezone application for the three parcels, EARH made it clear that the buyer, Gibraltar, planned to use the East Adams Care Center building and other property for a nursing home facility. Gibraltar has further specified that the facility would be a long-term facility geared toward memory care, such as those with Alzheimer's disease.

In January of 2017, the Adams County Hospital District No. 2 Board of Commissioners voted to close the East Adams Care Center facility. Operating the care center had been a financial drain on the district since the board had voted to accept the facility as a donation from Life Care Centers of America in August of 2014. According to then-CEO Gary Bostrom, the facility lost around $800,000 in its first nine months of operation in 2016.

In the rezone application, EARH stated that future growth is expected to increase Ritzville's population to its ideal level, about 2,500 people. "These residents will most likely be comprised of an older-than-average population featuring many retirees who have chosen to live in Ritzville for a variety of special reasons, including its small-town atmosphere, easy accessibility to regional metropolitan areas such as Spokane, and Ritzville's wide range of health care and recreational services."

EARH also noted that the property is already served with municipal sewer and water service, and that there is a developed City roadway system that surrounds three sides of the property.

They also argued that the rezoning of the property would be beneficial to public health, safety, welfare and in the public's interest because "ensuring that Ritzville residents have long-term care options that allow them to remain in their community-close to their family, friends and social connections-without having to seek those services elsewhere."

 

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