The new Rolla City Council members had their hands full at their first meeting, where a public hearing provided a lengthy discussion for all parties involved. The hearing was for a rezoning request, to allow The Silverstone Place Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, located on Eagleson Drive, to expand their operations.

    What they are requesting, according to the proposal, is the ability to add what they described as “villas” along with a memory care facility. The bulk of the discussion came from resident’s concerns that a rezoning would lead to a population density unsuitable for the neighborhood. 

    Currently, there are two parcels of land involved in the rezoning proposal. One is located entirely within a single-family district (R-1), and is vacant. The parcel measures less than half an acre, and is made up of two residential lots, according to City Administrator, John Butz. 

The other parcel, where the nursing home is located, is designated as R-2, a two-family zoning district. The city’s Future Land Use Map (FLUM), designates both parcels as low density - residential. 

    The goal for the development, proposed by Greg Spence of Rolla SNF LLC., is to change the zoning of both parcels to R-3, which allows for multi-family development, in order to build the villas, approximately 18 total. 

    Residents at the city council meeting who live close to the land voiced they are fine with the additional development of the senior center, but are worried the rezoning to R-3 would allow other high population developments to be built, should the expansion project fall through for any reason, or cease operations at some point in the future. Residents expressed their beliefs, going on record during the public hearing, that other multi-family or student house projects would be less compatible with the single-family homes along Cooper Street. 

    “I have two young children...I’m worried about the traffic and kind of the unknown,” said one mother who attended the public hearing. “I think if there was some sort of plan or rezoning that said it had to be this nursing home facility, I would be one hundred percent on board. But I am scared that if it goes south, what the R-3 rezoning would mean for the people. 

    The idea arose during the meeting to “restrict the density” of the R-3 zone by limiting the number of new dwelling units that could be constructed, according to City Administrator, John Butz.

    “There are a couple different ways of doing that, and we’ll visit with the owners on options before the next council meeting,” he said. 

During the public hearing, Spence said the company is open to meeting the requirements of the city and the residents near the senior center. 

    The public hearing marked only the first reading of the zoning ordinance. The city council will again discuss the issue at their next meeting on May 7, at 6:30 p.m.. The ordinance will be given another round of discussion by the council.