Planning commission OKs plans for new hospice site

By RYAN JARVI

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE – The Marquette City Planning Commission has approved a conditional use permit for construction of a new adult foster care facility that would be used by hospice and respite care patients.

The planning commission unanimously approved the permit with a 6-0 vote at Tuesday’s meeting, with commissioner Bob Kulisheck abstaining as a board member for Trillium House Inc., the year-old non-profit organization that plans to own and operate the facility.

“We’re not a separate hospice organization,” said Dan Mazzuchi, president of the nonprofit. “We will restrict the use of the facility to people who are in hospice and we provide a residence for them, just like a nursing home … but we’re licensed as an adult foster care facility, because to be licensed as a hospice we’d have to replicate all of hospice services again, which is totally unnecessary.”

The facility, to be called Trillium House, is planned for a 5.87-acre tract at 1144 Northland Drive. It would be available to any hospice provider.

The roughly 8,500-square-foot one-story building will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and house eight separate units for hospice agencies to provide end of life care to patients and their families.

“Trillium will provide a much needed place for many of our seniors and their families that have been struggling for years in our community not having a proper place for end of life care,” said project developer LR Swadley, of Swadley Development, LLC. “Currently, people have a choice of their existing homes, which aren’t often safe or suitable, or nursing homes, which are unaffordable in many cases and aren’t the ideal setting for families to enjoy the last days with their loved ones.”

Mazzuchi said the model for the new facility is the Houghton-based Omega House, which was established about 10 years ago.

“A hospice in the eastern (Upper Peninsula), in Sault Ste. Marie, opened its residential hospice unit two years ago,” he said. “Here, where we have most of the people in the central part of the U.P., we don’t have an answer yet, and we need one.”

The project is anticipated to start construction this fall and could be completed by December 2016.

The plan is to allow for eight units initially, with the ability to expand to 12 if there is a future need and financing permits.

Developers said most of the surrounding vegetation and any of the nearby wetlands will not be affected by the project.

Brian Savolainen of U.P. Engineers & Architects said the project will involve creating detention/retention basins to collect stormwater run-off, which will be directed away from the wetlands toward Northland Drive.

“We’re actually taking our stormwater away from that area,” he said. “The natural water that already goes there will be maintained. … We will have a natural slope in here that will still go in that direction, but our roof drains and everything that comes off the building will be handled and will go to the north.”

Commissioner Steve Lawry said with how the building would be situated on the property, only a few nearby homes would be able to see it, though it could generate a little more traffic on the road.

“It’s on the same dead end street as an existing apartment building, it’s zoned multi-family, so you could be looking at a 40- or 50-unit apartment complex back in there instead of an 8 to 12 unit respite care per our zoning and land use planning,” he said. “So I think this is an excellent compromise all the way around for the neighborhood to totally upgrade the area. I don’t see it as a problem.”

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His email address is rjarvi@miningjournal.net.