The Examiner

Pleasantville Officials Signal Opposition to Assisted Living Plan

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Sunrise Senior Living representatives were told by four Pleasantville Village Board members last week they are against the proposed 79-unit assisted living facility at the United Methodist Church site a month after submitting an application.

During the May 22 meeting, trustees openly discussed where they stand on the project – before a public hearing – foreshadowing a likely vote against the application.

“I urgently, plaintively, repeatedly discouraged these folks from coming forward with this proposal,” Mayor Peter Scherer said. “Four of the five members of the board are not optimistic about the progress you may make. If the answer is going to be no, the best thing for everybody is to get to a no as soon as we can.”

Sunrise representatives, supported by Bedford Road Partners, have spent the last year working with the village seeking feedback to create an assisted living proposal that addresses the concerns of the neighbors while accommodating the board’s requests.

While Trustee Nicole Asquith said the project doesn’t fit the location, trustees Steven Lord and Joseph Stargiotti said they are against changing the zoning to accommodate the project.

Sunrise, which is seeking a zoning code amendment, is looking to construct the building into the property’s elevation, making the three-story structure appear to be a half-story shorter in front and one-and-a half stories in back.

As outlined in the plans, the facility would accommodate 90 residents and has been shifted closer to Bedford Road away from the Maple Hill properties. The site will contain 40 parking spots, including two handicapped accessible spaces. The proposed building will also be surrounded by a variety of small tress, shrubs and groundcovers for residential appearance.

Sunrise must obtain a zoning code change to add a new floating overlay district from the village board before it pursues site plan approval from the planning commission.

“You (Sunrise) did try extremely hard to make this as palatable as possible given what we had said regarding Benchmark,” Lord said. “In total, looking at all of it, at this point I’m not inclined to change my mind.”

In 2014, the controversial vote to rezone the church’s property for the 87-unit Benchmark Senior Living project was supported by three of five village board members, but failed because a valid petition was submitted by neighboring property owners who have strenuously opposed both assisted living proposals. That petition required Benchmark to get a four-vote supermajority for approval. Scherer and Lord opposed the rezone.

Sunrise’s Senior Vice President Jerry Liang did not respond when asked for comment, but attorney Sy Gruza, representing Bedford Road Partners, said the board’s reaction disappointed everyone involved with the project.

Despite the majority’s eagerness to vote against the application, Trustee Colleen Griffin Wagner said she believes the project should not be compared to Benchmark and is concerned with voting against the project when the community hasn’t been given a chance to learn more about the proposal.

“I am sort of philosophically concerned about not having the applicant and the people who don’t know enough about this project not getting more information by cutting this off at this time,” Wagner said. “I’d like this to move forward, I’d like to get more information out to the public and I’d like the people who think this is the right thing to start speaking. I don’t feel ready to say yes or not, I feel ready to hear more.”

Community members are expected to have the chance to speak about the proposal at the board’s next meeting on June 12, before the board decides whether or not to accept the petition.



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