Commissioners approve Special Use Permit, with conditions, for Rose Stone Inn

Beverly Bryant - November 12, 2019 11:17 am

The properties shaded in red represent the 53.1 percent of nearby property owners protesting the Special Use Permit for the Rose Stone Inn.

The Ponca City Board of Commissioners gave conditional approval to a petition for a Special Use Permit for a residential care facility at 120 South Third Street Monday night.

The application to convert the building, known as the Rose Stone Inn, has been before city boards since the Planning Commission meeting on Oct. 1. That panel voted to deny a Special Use Permit requested by Dr. Vishal Aggarwal of Tulsa, OK. Several owners of downtown businesses spoke against the request.

At that meeting, Dr. Aggarwal said he purchased the 19,000-square-foot building in February, 2019, to open a residential care facility.

He said he had no intention of keeping it as a hotel. The property was on the market for over six months and no one purchased it for use as a boutique hotel, he said.

He said he purchased the property unaware of the code violations, and since the hotel was closed in April for those code violations, he has fixed the plumbing and sewer issues.

He said he also has spent $6,000 to remove large amounts of trash that had accumulated in the building. He has a contract for elevator maintenance and inspections and stated he has a commitment to making the property better and feels that it would be a positive change for the neighborhood.

The Department of Health will also inspect the property yearly, he said, and noted that visitors of the patients will shop, eat, and spend time downtown.

A public hearing then was held on this item at the regularly scheduled City Commission meeting on Oct. 14, 2019, when only three Commissioners were in attendance.

A vote could have been undertaken at that time, either for or against the petition, but a protest petition totaling 53.12 percent of surrounding property owners was submitted to staff ahead of the scheduled meeting.

Under State law, and in accordance with the City’s Zoning Code, a protest petition submitted by 50.1 percent or more property owners requires a minimum of four Commission votes for approval to overturn the petition.

In the interest of fairness to the applicant, the item was tabled until such time as all five Commissioners were in attendance, which was Monday night.

At Monday’s meeting, Development Services Director Chris Henderson told Commissioners his recommendation on the Special Use Permit has changed several times through the process, more so than any other issue he could recall.

He said he has studied all of the 41 similar facilities throughout Oklahoma that offer a level of care that is less than an assisted living home or nursing homes. They generally have five to 78 beds, and are located in a rural setting or neighborhood.

Henderson said those found in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Enid generally are larger or are part of a continuum of care facility.

Overall, he said, these facilities do not negatively affect the neighborhoods in which they are located.

He again reviewed the opinions of surrounding property owners who are protesting the Special Use Permit and said his recommendation has varied “by one degree to the left or right of center” on the issue.

On  the negative side, he raised  the issues of questionable management, a lack of a business plan and funding, and no design professional  involved in the process, as required by law for a facility with more than 16 rooms.

In order to recommend approval of the request, Henderson said he would want the Commissioners to include conditions. Those included:

  • Oklahoma State Department of Health oversight;
  • Proof of financial investment to bring the building up to code;
  • Elimination of the current residents;
  • Assurance that it does not impact surrounding properties.

Henderson said the Special Use Permit places the burden on the applicant, and he would also be required  to conform with building codes.

He also said that the 53.1 percent of surrounding businesses protesting the permit is composed of seven individuals.

Henderson said  the property owner would be issued a citation Tuesday, Nov. 12, for graffiti on the building, and would be required  to remove discarded furniture and mattresses on the property within 30  days.

He also told Commissioners they could require annual city reviews of the property as part of the yearly licensure, and if a Certificate of Occupancy is not attained within a year, the Special Use Permit would be null and void.

Commissioners then voted 4 to 1 to approve a Special Use Permit with conditions as recommended.

 

 

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