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MILLS RIVER — The Mills River Town Board gave the go-ahead on Thursday for a $6.8 million 50-bed nursing home on N.C. 191 in Mills River just south of the High Vista residential community.
The board approved the plans by Beystone Health and Rehabilitation Co. and Fletcher Academy Inc. to build the 34,000-square-foot facility on 9.4 acres of vacant farmland across from Laurel Terrace and next to the old High Vista driving range.
The board gave the OK after engineer Bill Lapsley explained changes he had devised to help handle stormwater runoff from the site. During a hearing last month when the council first took up the application for the project, neighbors complained that increased water runoff from the site threatened their property.
Lapsley told the council that he had met with property owner Jerry Metcalf and Jack Carver and looked at the existing pipes, culverts and ditches that carry water. A 15-inch pipe that runs under N.C. 191 is inadequate to carry the existing stormwater that drains from the nursing home site and will be even more undersized when the facility is built.
"That 15-inch pipe has got to be replaced," Lapsley said. "It's not near big enough."
As a solution, the nursing home builder has agreed to install a 24-inch pipe under the highway and extend the line to tie in to another pipe that drains toward the Buncombe County line.
Carver was unable to attend Thursday's meeting.
"I met with Mr. Carver and showed him my calcuations (on the volume of water) and he told me that he was fine with this pipe layout," Lapsley said, "but he emphasized again there’s something going on downstream that today, the water is not getting out; it’s ponding on his property.”
Lapsley said zoning and environmental permitting is nearly complete and site work could begin as soon as next month. The applicant still must get approval from state regulators for the building plans. It has received permission to build the facility, which does not add new beds to the total available in Henderson County. Beystone plans to close its nursing facility in Fletcher and move the patients and staff to the new building.
Here are details of the nursing home:
• Beystone plans to relocate its outdated 50-bed nursing facility from Fletcher to N.C. 191 (Old Haywood Road) in Mills River.
• The $6.8 million 34,000-square-foot facility would include 30 private rooms and 20 semi-private rooms. It will have 49 fulltime employees.
• In a certificate of need application, the company said the existing nursing home, built in 1967, has limited curb appeal, an air conditioning unit that needs replacing, leaking plumbing, inadequate handicapped parking, an antiquated laundry facility, extremely small bathrooms, an inefficient two-story and a setting on the Fletcher Academy campus that is "congested and confusing."
• The new facility will have 30 private and 20 semi-private rooms, warm and comfortable bedding and sitting areas, large, bright and colorful common areas, energy efficient lighting, digital patient records replacing the "antiquated practice of having medical records charting areas visible by residents," specialized menus and restaurant style dining, gardening, walking trails and a gazebo and fire pit for cookouts.
• There will be no financial impact on Medicare, Medicaid or Hospice residents, Beystone said. "Private pay residents will be asked to transition over time to a slightly higher per-diem room rate, but this is in line with other facilities in the area," the company said.
• Project costs include site development, $1.54 million; construction, $3.2 million; furniture and equipment, $595,000; architect and engineering fees, $125,000; certificate of need preparation, $35,000; legal costs, $10,000; financing costs, $50,000; interest during construction, $166,888; other costs, $1,100,000.
• The property has access to Hendersonville water. Wastewater treatment would be through the system used by High Vista, a private company out of Brevard that owns the pipes and the treatment plant.
• The owners plan to finance the project through a commercial loan of $5,652,925 and owner's equity of $1,164,463. Beystone bought the land from Emily and Kevin McCallister of Oak Ridge, Tenn., for $600,000 in June 2012.
Source: Certificate of Need findings, N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation