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Nearly two-and-a-half years after receiving its zoning change from the Mount Pleasant Town Board, site plan review began last week for a proposed project that combines assisted living with independent senior housing in Valhalla.
Brightview Senior Living appeared before the town’s Planning Board on Aug. 21 for its 170-unit project at 236 Grasslands Rd., across the street from the entrance to Westchester Community College.
Several factors resulted in the lengthy delay between obtaining a floating zone for the 8.3-acre lot in March 2021 and coming before the Planning Board last week, said Maria Miller, development director for Brightview. At the time of the zoning change from Office Business to a floating zone, the plan called for 89 independent units, 45 assisted living beds and 36 slots for memory care.
Miller said the company has been concentrating on the design of the building, which is expected to be sustainable as Brightview strives to move closer to net-zero emission buildings. The project is expected to include solar panels and a garden on the roof, energy-efficient appliances and water efficiency features for the toilets and washers, she said. Electric vehicle charging stations is also something that the company wants to include.
Brightview is also working to have a municipal water district expanded to hook up about 50 homes, a condition that it agreed to with the town.
Finally, there has been a 500-basis-point increase in interest rates since the rezoning, which is making for a challenging environment, Miller said.
“That’s had a bit of a chilling effect in the market,” Miller said. “I have to tell you that Brightview has gone through many, many economic markets. We raise our own equity bonds, we’re still able to persist, but we’ve had to reposition ourselves, so we had to recalibrate ourselves, so we’ve recalibrated and here we are.”
Project engineer Paul Sisak said the four-story building will have a 67,000-square-foot footprint and will contain 205,000 square feet of space. There would be 122 parking spaces, which is in excess of the requirements under the zoning of one space for every two units, Sisak said.
The board urged the applicant to anticipate questions during the public hearing regarding the project’s impact on traffic on Grasslands Road, a highly congested thoroughfare, especially when school is in session, board Chair James Collins said.
“My prediction, that’s going to be your biggest question from the community is Grasslands Road and the traffic on it,” said board Chair James Collins. “So make sure you do your due diligence.”
Sisak said they will likely have the project traffic consultant attend the public hearings.
Board member Joan Lederman first questioned why Brightview would propose building that includes assisted living where its elevators couldn’t fit a stretcher.
Lederman, who has been an ambulance corps volunteer and captain, said she’s concerned about the project’s impact on emergency services, particularly the Valhalla Ambulance Corps.
“To be up front with you, I’m captain of the ambulance services and these communities bury us,” Lederman said bluntly.
Miller responded that Brightview will have an around-the-clock nursing assistant on staff and a part-time EMS. After receiving pushback from Lederman, Miller said the facility could engage a private ambulance service.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/