By Madeline Rosenberg
The Mount Pleasant Town Board is considering a change to the town’s zoning code to accommodate a Valhalla senior housing proposal, the latest in a years-long push to create a range of local senior living facilities.
Brightview Senior Living representatives proposed creating a floating zone district to the board at a public hearing last Tuesday evening. The proposal comes after the Mount Pleasant Planning Board recommended the floating zone and opposed Brightview’s original plan to change the proposed housing site in Valhalla from residential to an office business zone.
The developer is proposing to build 170 units of independent living, assisted living and memory care at a largely undeveloped site near Westchester Community College on Grasslands Road. Under the current town code, assisted living facilities cannot be combined with independent living housing, The Examiner previously reported.
Town Attorney Darius Chafizadeh told the Town Board last week that creating a floating zone would help Mount Pleasant develop senior housing in a more commercial area, meeting standards that include at least eight acres of land that run along a state or county road.
“The concept was to give the board some flexibility here,” Chafizadeh said, “but to limit (the senior housing) to certain types of properties so it doesn’t go into a residential neighborhood, to keep it in an area that is more commercialized and accessible from a more heavily traveled road as opposed to a residential street.”
David Cooper, an attorney for the law firm Zarin & Steinmetz representing Brightview, said the developer would build more than $800,000 worth of public water infrastructure upgrades during the housing construction process by installing a water main to connect over 50 homes to the town’s water system. Brightview would also agree to add a traffic light outside the facility’s entrance on busy Grasslands Road.
The plan to develop senior housing along the thoroughfare drew sharp public criticism last October during a preliminary discussion about the project. Concerns over traffic congestion, even with the proposed signal, escalated during a meeting last fall before the Planning Board.
In May, the Planning Board, in its zoning amendment referral to the Town Board stated that it “remains concerned about the maximum permitted density, and associated site plan issues, which will be addressed during the specific site plan application submitted in support of the development of the Grasslands Road site.”
But advocates for the senior housing project say the development won’t cause a traffic surge and will bring community and financial benefits, including increased tax revenue.
“Such specialized housing would provide significant benefits to the Town of Mount Pleasant, as the senior population forms a stable part of the community, generates limited traffic on area roadways, does not utilize schools, and can serve as a source of sustained patronage of local businesses,” the proposed zoning amendment reads.
Chafizadeh added that Mount Pleasant has for years found senior housing a “very positive, necessary thing in the town.”
Some residents praised the senior housing project, while others called the development necessary for reasons beyond housing. The new water main would address water supply issues that have gone unresolved for years in some areas of town, resident Sanjiv Khattri told the board.
Khattri said his water supply has switched back and forth between Mount Pleasant and Greenburgh water. Now, his home uses well water, which has a “set of issues.”
“I strongly encourage the authorities to make sure this thing happens as soon as possible,” Khattri said. “I applaud all of you for resolving it and trying to get it done, but it has already been very long and I want the record to show that as a citizen I am frustrated by the delay.”
Residents can provide written or spoken comments to the Town Board on the senior housing proposal until the board’s August meeting. The hearing will resume on Aug. 11.