A three year battle between New Castle County and Delaware Hospice came to an end Tuesday night after County Council unanimously approved the non-profit's request to build a facility in Pike Creek.
The 24-bed inpatient Delaware Hospice planned for Polly Drummond Hill and Fox Den Roads was approved 13-0 after the two parties spent three years debating and litigating over the proposal.
"I'm going with my heart and not my gut," said Councilman Tim Sheldon (D- Pike Creek) before making a motion to un-table the legislation at council's regular bi-weekly meeting Tuesday. "I'm hoping that Delaware Hospice is a good neighbor."
The Pike Creek center will be strictly inpatient care, with no outpatient or ambulatory services on site, representatives of Delaware Hospice said.
One of Sheldon's main concerns was that the residential space would be turned into an office-type building.
Kim Hoffman, an attorney for Delaware Hospice, assured council that this would not be the case.
There will be offices inside of the inpatient nursing home for those near the end of their lives, she said, but they will be for staff needed to run the facility.
Outpatient care will not be provided from the Pike Creek location and homecare employees will not be using the new facility as an office, Hoffman said. Homecare employees will continue to receive their duties via e-mail. She said that Delaware Hospice will be leasing a different office site for its homecare division in New Castle County.
Land Use Manager Dave Culver said that the plans for Pike Creek are code compliant with New Castle County.
The facility is planned to be nearly 60,000-square-feet and will mirror the Delaware Hospice's Milford building. It will be built in two phases.
The only difference between the two hospice centers is that there will be no homecare in the Pike Creek facility.
Each room will have its own HVAC unit and operation details will come later on, Hoffman said at a Land Use Committee meeting Oct. 2.
"It's been a long road," said Pike Creek Civic Association leader Jeff Peters. "We want 24-beds for the sake of charity and good works."
Peters asked council to consider voting yet on Tuesday during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Sheldon said that he had all intentions of keeping the legislation tabled for another two weeks, but he agreed with Peters that it would be best to go on blind faith.
The resolution approved by council Tuesday allows for the 18-acre parcel of land in Mill Creek Hundred to be subdivided into two lots.
The property, which was formerly a farm, was chosen as a potential location for a Delaware Hospice facility in August 2009.
Page 2 of 2 - Delaware Hospice also has facilities in Dover, Milford, and Chaddsford, Pa.
The non-profit does not plan on running management out of its Pike Creek center, Hoffman said. She outlined a typical day of the group's Chief Operating Officer, emphasizing the amount of travel management does to make sure all of its facilities are operating properly.
"They make sure operations are running in compliance with the law," Hoffman said. "It's more of a traveling show as opposed to a corporate headquarters."
Any change in use of the 18-acre parcel of land other than a nursing home would have to be re-zone through the county, Culver said.
Traffic has already been addressed for Fox Den Road, said State Rep. Mike Ramone (R- Pike Creek).
Ramone said that two of his "three T's" have already been met by Delaware Hospice -- traffic and testimony.
"We hope it doesn't create an office complex, but does create a community," he said. "Now we're just left with trust."