Lakeview permit moves to council

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Planning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit Monday to allow construction of a 77,000-square foot expansion at Lakeview Methodist Health Care Center

The panel also approved a conditional use permit for an electronic messaging sign at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Both measures advance to the City Council for final approval.

New commissioners Jon Omvig and Liz Wheeler joined current board members Tom Lytle, Adam Smith, Scott Unke and Ed Willett, chairman.

At a previous meeting, the commission approved the preliminary and final plat of the Lakeview addition as well as rezoning a portion of the Lakeview property at 651 Fairlakes Ave. from single-family residential to multiple family residential (R-3). The City Council will vote on both of those recommendations following public hearings Monday.

Megan Boeck, Fairmont’s planner/code enforcement technician, told the commissioners that nursing home facilities are an allowable use in R-3 zones if they meet standards outlined for a conditional use permit. These standards include adequate off-street parking, minimum side yards of 30 feet, off-street loading and service entrances, and adequate screening such as landscaping for abutting residential areas.

Omvig suggested that Lakeview’s site plan encompass the entire area, including vacant space, for the permit and requested an adequate buffer abutting the residential area.

“Site screening requirements require a green belt,” he said, adding that the buffer on the south property line consists of a lot of scrub brush. “I’d ask that they would clean that up and throw a couple of pines in.”

Omvig included these stipulations in a motion to approve the permit, and Unke offered a second, followed by unanimous approval.

In the matter of the electronic messaging sign at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Boeck explained that in October the commission had denied a permit for the sign to be located at the corner of Albion Avenue and Victoria Street, believing the brightness of the sign would create a nuisance to neighboring properties and a distraction for drivers.

“That [permit] was then denied by the City Council and cannot be resubmitted for a period of six months, but because this application places the proposed sign at a new location, it is considered a new application,” Boeck said.

The proposal states the sign would be mounted on the west side of the church near the corner of Oxford Street and Victoria Street.

“The current application repositions the sign to face the playground or recreational area to the west, which will lessen the impact of the electronic messaging sign to surrounding properties,” Boeck said.

She noted that more than 100 letters were mailed to surrounding properties owners, and she did not receive any verbal or written comments about the new proposal.

However, two neighboring property owners, Bob Charnecki of 500 Albion Ave. and Ruth Schauberger of 111 Oxford St., expressed concerns about the brightness of the sign.

“I don’t think an electronic sign is appropriate for a residential neighborhood,” Charnecki said.

“We’re just literally feet from this sign,” Schauberger said. “I feel we would be impacted more than anybody else in the neighborhood.”

Boeck said the sign would measure 4 feet by 6 3/4 feet and be illuminated only from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. She noted that similar signs have been approved at St. John Vianney and Immanuel Lutheran Church.

Unke made a motion to approve the permit. Lytle offered a second, followed by unanimous approval.