Residents: assisted living center is bad fit near homes

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published October 29, 2013

 The 3.26-acre site at Square Lake and Adams is currently undeveloped and zoned as residential.

The 3.26-acre site at Square Lake and Adams is currently undeveloped and zoned as residential.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Residents who live in the Square Lake and Adams area packed the Oct. 22 Troy Planning Commission special study meeting to voice strong opposition to proposed plans to build a senior assisted living center on the southeast corner of the intersection.

The undeveloped 3.26-acre parcel is in a residential district. An assisted living facility is listed as a defined use under housing in the district, said Ben Carlisle of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant.

The Planning Commission first considered the preliminary site plan for the proposed 92-bed facility at the Sept. 24 meeting and unanimously postponed the matter, asking for more information on the number of parking spaces needed on the site. The proposed center would not provide rehabilitation services, Carlisle said.

He said Carlisle/Wortman recommended approval of the plans with the conditions of making the rear entrance accessible to visitors, or providing better pedestrian access around the side and rear of the building, and screening the property line along Sussex with either a three-foot masonry wall or decorative fence with shrubs.

Lorenzo Cavaliere of Cavaliere Cos., based in Warren, represented the developer, Windemere of Troy Land Holdings, and told the Planning Commission that the center would create residential-type activity, which creates one of the lowest impacts to neighborhoods.

Residents’ issues included concerns about additional traffic, noise from garbage trucks unloading Dumpsters and from ambulances coming to the center, and a drop in home values.

Terry Adams, a resident on Sussex, east of the property, said the development would end about 130 feet from his property line.

“I am 100 percent against this board approving this,” he said. “It’s disappointing that zoning allows a structure like this in a total residential area.” He went on to say the proposed center would disrupt “one of the only country subdivisions in Troy. It’s in the heart of a residential area, a very nice residential area. It will totally ruin values.”

“We’re going to need these,” said Sussex resident Roger Howard, who said he formerly worked as a director at Beaumont Hospitals. “But this is not the site for it.”

“It’s entirely too big for the area,” said Lenox resident Marge Qualmann.

Chuck Ohman, who lives on Lenox, said he owns three nursing facilities in Ohio.

“Oh, how we need more facilities, but not in this location,” he said.

Planning Commissioner Thomas Strat raised objections to the parking layout and the size of the proposed building relative to the size of the parcel.

Assistant City Attorney Susan Lancaster said that if the site plan meets zoning requirements, by state law, the city must approve it or risk lawsuit.

“The city would be subject to damages if it is not following its own law,” she said.

“It was the decision of the Planning Commission, then the City Council, as part of the master plan and zoning ordinances, that the city needed a wider range of housing opportunities for the city’s aging population and that it was appropriate to have these types of facilities in proximity to residential neighborhoods,” City Planner Brent Savidant said.

“Troy is approaching build-out,” he added. “All the easy parcels have been developed. Every (undeveloped) parcel is infill, so neighbors are impacted or perceive they are impacted.”

The Planning Commission voted 7-1 to postpone consideration of the site plans to ask the developer to submit plans with more screening between the development and nearby streets, and possible reconfiguration of the building on the site. Planning Commissioner Philip Sanzica was absent, and Planning Commissioner Michael Hutson voted against the postponement.

“I believe he’s met all the requirements and entitled to approval,” he said.