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Assisted Living

Brightview Senior Living is looking to construct a 170-unit facility on about nine acres of land off Route 112 in Port Jeff Station, illustrated above within the red box. Image from Google Maps

Another large-scale development project is in the works for the Port Jefferson Station area.

Brookhaven Town approved a zone change at its July 12 meeting paving the way for the construction of a 170-unit assisted living facility on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station on a parcel near The Meadow Club banquet hall. With plans already progressing in recent months to construct a 244-unit residential complex for senior citizens on North Bicycle Path just off of Route 112 and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s allocating of $8 million in funds for a roughly 100-unit project for affordable and homeless housing on Route 112 near East Grove Street, this will be the third property set for massive development in a roughly mile and a half stretch of the state highway.

Baltimore-based developer Brightview Senior Living will be building and operating the assisted living facility, as it does with each of its 35 properties, according to Vice President of Development David Holland, who spoke during a town public hearing on the zone change July 12.

“We intend to be long-term citizens of Brookhaven and strive to be good neighbors to all who are around us,” Holland said.

The VP said the company expects the majority of its tenants to be in their 80s and 90s and in need of regular, daily care. Brightview’s current site plan for the approximately nine-acre plot of land includes a three-story building with dining venues, a theater, a pub, a library, indoor and outdoor lounges, as well as its own sewage treatment facility for the site.

The property was previously owned by area resident Jeff Kito and his family dating back to the 1950s, he said during the hearing. Kito is the former president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association and lives on the nearby Canal Road currently. He said he and his brother decided to sell the property about three years ago and sought to find a developer interested in building something along the lines of what Brightview proposed. He said he has met with neighbors in the vicinity to discuss the plans.

“I think we’ll have a great facility for the community,” he said.

Kito’s former colleagues in the civic association submitted a letter to Brightview dated Jan. 25, 2017, stating the members had no objections to the project.

“We look forward to working with your firm as this assisted living facility proposal is further developed in our Port Jefferson Station Terryville Hamlet,” said the letter, signed by then-President Ed Garboski, who is now the vice president.

Current President Sal Pitti said in an email the civic association still has no objections related to the project. Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) and Anthony Guardino, an attorney representing the applicant at the July 12 hearing, each said they had received a single letter from a community member in opposition of the development in addition to several in favor, including one signed by all homeowners on Patty Ann Court, which is also nearby the boundaries of the parcel. The property is expected to have a significant buffer from other residential properties that will include sizable evergreen trees.

Holland indicated a demand for such a facility exists in the area, as Brightview determined about 1,500 assisted living beds are currently available in the town.

About 16 percent of Suffolk County’s population is 65 or older, according to the website www.censusreporter.org, which is slightly higher than the New York state and United States rates. Port Jefferson Station’s 80-plus population is substantially larger — about 20 percent — than that of the state and surrounding region, according to the site.

The proposed plan for the assisted living facility in Huntington Station. Photo from Sunrise Development Inc.

By Victoria Espinoza

The sun seems set to rise on a new assisted living facility in Huntington Station.

Last week the Huntington town board unanimously approved a zone change for a 5.7 acre property on Jericho Turnpike and West Hills Road owned by Sunrise Development, Inc.

The land, located at 300 West Hills Road, is currently in a residential zone, and will be changed to a residential health services district to allow for the developer to create a two-story, 90-unit structure with 136 beds. After meetings with the town planning board, the developer has agreed to changes including staff shift changes timed to avoid peak traffic with the nearby Walt Whitman High School, “significant” landscape buffers between the facility and residences, and more.

At the May town board meeting, at least 10 residents that will neighbor the facility came to speak in support of the plan, though other residents came to oppose it.

According to the applicant, they held three community meetings as well as individual meetings with residents to hear their concerns and ideas to help make the facility the best it could be for the entire neighborhood.

Priscilla Jahir, a 34-year South Huntington resident was one of those speaking in opposition.

“I have no personal vendetta against seniors as I am one,” she said at the meeting. “I oppose the increase in traffic on West Hills Road, both during the 14-month-plus construction time and afterword as any increase in traffic will be a hardship to anyone traveling along that route. I feel that this facility is better suited for a larger access road.”

Diane Tanko presented a petition asking for a reduction in the size of the plan before granting them a zoning change.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said the main traffic contributors are expected to be the employees, not the residents who will live at the facility.

“If you reduce units you’re not really reducing traffic generation,” Cuthbertson said. “The people living there are generally not driving.”

Tanko responded that visitors also increase traffic, but Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said “sadly,” there were not many visitors at the other locations during the several times of the day she went to track the traffic and fullness of the parking lots.

Kevin McKenna, a South Huntington resident said he was in favor of the plan.

“I have two kids that attend Walt Whitman High School and I pass this location at least twice a day,” he said at the meeting. “I attended an informational meeting for the project set up by Sunrise and I walked away very impressed with the plan and the measures they’re taking with bringing the project to the neighborhood.”

He said he appreciated specifically how Sunrise intends to exceed setback measures for houses and fund landscape dividers at houses near the property.

Thomas Newman, a third-generation Peach Tree Lane resident said he’s seen the area change throughout the years and supports this change.

“After 25 years of being in the business of architecture and seeing their [Sunrise] designs, I think it would be an asset to our community,” he said. “I’d be happy to have my kids live fourth-generation on that street with this.”

Arthur Gibson, president of Plumbers Local Union 200, spoke in support of the plan.

“They’ve built I believe 15 similar units on Long Island, and they’ve consistently used a contractor…meaning local jobs for local people,” Gibson said at the meeting. “There’s so many times, I could tell you horror story after horror story where our contractors don’t get paid. Sunrise Senior Living, they pay their bills, and that’s very important for a construction man or woman on Long Island.”

The company said they are “negotiating in good faith” with the union currently for the job.

Residents turn out for and against a plan to build a 69-unit assisted living facility in Huntington. Photo by Rohma Abbas

Plans to build a 69-unit assisted living facility in a residential, wooded Huntington neighborhood were largely met with heavy censure by neighboring residents at a town board public hearing on Tuesday night.

The room was filled to the max with individuals holding up signs for and against the proposal, and jeering and applause often punctuated speakers’ statements. Out of the nearly 35 individuals who spoke, most residents opposed Massachusetts-based Benchmark Senior Living’s plans to build the facility at the corner of East Main Street and Washington Drive, calling the proposal too dense for the area and criticizing the traffic, noise and sewage treatment aspects of the project. The residents called on the town board to reject the company’s proposal to rezone the six-acre land, which has both C-3 Special Business and R-10 Residential zoning, to R-HS Residential Health Services District, a designation that would make way for the facility.

The project has gone through several versions. The proposed number of units has been brought down from 87 to 69 units, and the proposed on-site sewage treatment plant has been moved to the northwest corner of the lot, adjacent to commercial property. A 40-foot-wide natural buffer along Old Northport Road will be built, and the gross floor area would be slightly reduced from 70,567 square feet to 66,995.

Representatives for the developer said at the meeting that the project would meet the needs of a growing senior population in Suffolk County and especially in Huntington Town. But many residents expressed frustration over the zone change request, urging the board to keep the zoning of the current land intact.

Some support Benchmark Senior Living’s request to rezone property to make way for a 69-unit assisted living facility in Huntington. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Some support Benchmark Senior Living’s request to rezone property to make way for a 69-unit assisted living facility in Huntington. Photo by Rohma Abbas

“Shoehorning a large-scale facility into this spot that would house 100 to 150 people including the staff is so far from the original zoning plan that it renders zoning laws absurd,” Jane Carter, a Cobb Court resident said. “Why do we have zoning laws in the first place? They’re there to protect us.”

Meanwhile, the plan got some support by fewer than a handful of residents, including the construction industry. The developer’s team of representatives argued the proposal is a good use for the site and for the town. John Dragat, senior vice president of development at Benchmark, said the plan destroys fewer trees than previous plans for the site, which included eight homes and an office building. Benchmark’s proposal covers less of the lot and, square-footage wise, isn’t much greater than the plan for the homes, Dragat added.

“In fact, we believe it’s a very responsible proposal,” he said. “It’s respectful of the surrounding community.”

Still, residents were not sold. Astrid Ludwicki, an Old Northport Road resident, said the project was too dense and called it a “monstrosity.”

“This building is too large,” she said. “It’s for Benchmark’s profits, clear and simple.”

Petitions opposing the project have been submitted to the town. Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia (R) said if they’re valid, it could mean the board would need a supermajority vote — four out of five — to approve the zone change, versus a simple majority of three.

After the meeting, Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in an interview that the town’s planning staff would review the proposal. Asked for his sense of how the community feels about the project, he said “they’re against it.” The supervisor also said he agreed with the applicant’s claim that this type of facility is needed.

“I think there is a need,” he said. “I think everybody will say there’s a need. Now depending on if it’s in the right spot, we have to analyze that.”

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