An artist's rendering of "The Meridian," a senior living community to be built by WesleyLife. The senior living community will use materials "reflecting the connection to the earth, the Iowa farmland and the influence of the region's rivers," according to a release from WesleyLife.

An assisted-living complex proposed in Bettendorf cleared its first hurdle Wednesday when the city's planning and zoning commission unanimously approved a development plan. 

Called The Meridian, the campus at 53rd Avenue and Middle Road will feature 100 independent-living apartments, 16 assisted-living and 16 assisted-living memory support units, 20 short-term rehabilitation suites and 20 health care suites. Wellspire, the company leading the development, is a collaboration between local Genesis Health System and Des Moines-based WesleyLife.

Commissioners had concerns about parking.

“With 110 parking spots for people who are living independently, and I’m assuming they’re coming and going, is that adequate parking?” Commissioner Janessa Ormsby asked.

Community Development Director John Soenksen told the commission the number of parking spaces was done through the “most stringent” formula possible.

“With that, the number was 183, and (the plan is) providing 194,” Soenksen said. “There is a different formula that you can use that uses a different multiplier and accounts for the number of employees, and Greg ran it both ways. The way he calculated it, 183 was the higher of the numbers.”

Soensken was referring to City Planner Greg Beck, who said the definition of the facility in the zoning ordinance was what determined the classification of parking.

“It defines what this facility does as a term for retirement residents living, and that in turn is an actual category for parking formulation,” Beck said, also noting he had visited other WesleyLife facilities and found there to be adequate parking. “There isn’t any provision within there to say ‘This is what you do for shift employees’ or something of that nature.”

Engineer Brian Belk of Axiom Consultants told the commission they felt they went well beyond what was required by code and then defaulted to previous projects that WesleyLife had built.

The project will next be heard at the Bettendorf City Council’s meeting in July.

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