By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Morgan County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of a conditional use permit for a congregate personal care home at 150 Hancock Street, Madison. The applicant, Patrick Reams, is proposing to use the existing building at 150 Hancock Street as a full-time assisted living facility that will house approximately 70 residents and employ 90 full-time and part-time employees. The proposed use will also include common areas, including a dining facility. Bryce Jaeck, planner for the city of Madison, presented the application and his staff report. He stated that there have been no public comments regarding the application.

He also noted that the proposed use would help the city cope with the aging population in Madison, which Jaeck described as a “growing segment of Madison’s population” in the staff report. Jaeck included statistics from the Census Bureau in his report that showed that median age in Madison has increased from 37.3 in 2009 to 41.7 in 2012. Jaeck suggested two conditions on recommending the application.

The first was that the applicant be able to construct a loading dock without having to return for Planning Commission approval, if the dock became necessary in the future, and the second was that the conditional use permit expire if the applicant does not move forward with the project within 12 months of approval Reams stated to the commission that the second and third floors would have to be reconstructed for the proposed use, but, since public areas will be located on the first floor, the first floor would have to undergo less construction.

He also described the existing kitchen as “overbuilt” for the proposed use. Commission Member Connie Booth asked Reams what his rates will be for residents, and Reams responded that they would be based on market rates and could vary from $2,500 per month to $4,700 per month, depending on the level of care required. Commission Member Dennis Myers expressed concern with whether or not Morgan County’s current EMS services would be able to deal with the addition of a senior care home. Morgan County Planning Director Chuck Jarrell said that there are currently two National EMS units patrolling the county at all times.

He said that discussions concerning whether or not Morgan County requires a third unit have not been able to show that the addition of a third unit is justifiable. However, he said that circumstances could change that assessment in the future.

The Planning Commission also voted to approve: text amendments related to the definitions of child-care homes, nursing home/facilities, and personal care establishments, regulations concerning where they are permitted, and minimum requirements for personal care homes, family child-care homes and group child-care homes. a text amendment allowing LED technology for internal illumination in the C4 district businesses whose primary function includes fuel sales, provided that the sign’s content doesn’t change more than twice per day.