Fort Smith City Leaders Axe Nursing Home Proposal

FORT SMITH (KFSM)-  Hundreds of residents showed up at the Fort Smith Planning Commission meeting that led to the rejection of a plan to build an 88,000 square foot assisted living facility in Riley Farm.

"A majority of the residents in Riley Farm, we all are all for growing Fort Smith and increasing jobs and new industries going in like this nursing home, but there are so many other properties in the city around that are more suited," said Riley Farm Property Owner Association president Janie Johnston.

Residents against the plan said they worried about traffic, noise and the vast size of a facility like this in their neighborhood.

"Riley Farm was developed before the city required new developments to have sidewalks," Johnston said. "So, we have no sidewalks. We have runners, walkers, kids, and bike riders in the streets day and night , all the time. That's where we exercise and play."

But, those who like the idea said the facility would have brought more jobs to the area.

"This is a great project, it's a beautiful building, it's economic opportunity," resident Rocky Walker said. "It's organic, in other words, this company is coming in and going to start a business right here in our backyard and it'll bring other jobs."

Pat Mickle is the architect designing the building. He said the decision is a disappointment.

"We think the project's got merit," Mickle said. "The owner of the nursing home thought that this would probably be a good site because it would provide the people of the neighborhood the ability to have their loved ones as they get older to have a place to go which is convenient."

Supporters have the opportunity to appeal the commission's decision. Mickle said he is not sure at this time whether he will appeal the decision.

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