A Fairfield developer’s plan to obtain a special use permit to build an assisted living and memory care facility on Campbell Drive was turned down by a 3-2 vote by Marshalltown’s Board of Adjustment earlier this week.

The role of the five-member board is to hear applications related to use, variances and appeals as provided in the zoning ordinance.

Members are Kevin Hitchins, a local attorney; G. Ward Miller, chairman and a realtor; Kelli Thurston, a realtor; David Schulze, an architect; and Bob Wenner, a Fisher/Emerson retiree and former city council member.

Conversely, Marshalltown’s Planning & Zoning Commission had reviewed the request and recommended approval unanimously Nov. 12.

Tom Deimerly, president of the Marshall Economic Development Impact Committee, said on behalf of developer Ben Danielson of Fairfield it would be “full steam ahead” in considering other Marshalltown sites.

However, Deimerly said he was surprised by the vote.

“The project is definitely needed in Marshalltown, he said.

Developer Danielson was proposing “The Willows,” a 58-bed facility at 2315 Campbell Drive on 12.44 acres owned by Ervin Harre of Fairfeild.

Forty assisted living units were planned with 18 memory care units, according to Danielson’s application.

Total area was 60,490 square feet

The project would have cost an estimated $6-$7 million and would have created 20 jobs.

Miller said he voted “no, because 8-10 neighbors from the area spoke publicly against the project at the board of adjustment meeting.” They were supported by approximately 20 others who Miller said were providing moral support.

Their opposition centered on the proposed installation of a driveway near a curve, where Campbell Drive melds into 233rd Street.

Miller said opponents were concerned the driveway planned not far from the curve would be too dangerous for traffic on both streets.

Opponents also cited a blinding sun as drivers proceeding south on Campbell Drive negotiated the curve heading west into 233rd Street.

“I voted yes,” said Thurston. “I thought it would be a great project for Marshalltown. It is needed, and would have provided additional tax revenue. And we have a lack of senior housing.”

Thurston said she respected the final decision, “since it was part of the democratic process.”

“I was surprised at the decision since the planning and zoning commission had approved it unanimously,” said Michelle Spohnheimer, the city’s housing and community development director.

The property is zoned R-2, low density residential, which does allow for developments such as nursing homes to obtain a special use permit, according to Danielson’s application for the special use permit to Marshalltown’s Housing & Community Development department.

The land had previously been considered for an Alzheimer care development by a previous company. The property reverted back to the R-2 designation when the project did not move forward.

Calls seeking comment from Bob Wenner, member, board of adjustment; and Sharon Greer, member, planning and zoning committee, were not returned by press time.

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or