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Planning commission recommends zone change for assisted living

A 16-unit memory care unit could be added to Golden Horizons if the Worthington City Council concurs with a Worthington Planning Commission recommendation approved Tuesday. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Planning Commission voted Tuesday evening in favor of recommending a zone change in order to accommodate an addition to the Golden Horizons assisted living facility.

Owner KC Properties plans to add a 16-unit memory care unit to Golden Horizons — a well-documented need in the Worthington community.

The proposed expansion would require a change of zone from R-4 (medium density residential) to R-5 (high density), due to the number of units and the percentage of land covered by structure.

With the zone change would come a change of setback requirements. Typically, R-5 zones require larger setbacks from the property line because R-5 zoning has no height limitation. However, Golden Horizons already has an existing structure, so there is only so much space for the expansion. KC Properties requested a variance that would allow it to have smaller setbacks.

Jason Brisson, the city’s director of community and economic development, explained that city staff recommended granting a variance that would allow Golden Horizons to meet the R-4 setback requirements instead of those for R-5. The main practical difference would be five feet of extra allowance on the east side of the property. This variance would come with a condition that the property be limited to a single story in height.

Commissioners felt these requests were reasonable, especially since Golden Horizons is currently at full occupancy with a waiting list.

The commission voted unanimously in favor of both the change of zone recommendation and the conditional variance.

The planning commission can only make recommendations on zoning, not final decisions. The Worthington City Council will have a first reading of the proposed zone change at its regular meeting on April 8.