The Examiner

P’ville Assisted Living Plan Revised in Hopes of Community Support

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SunriseProposa-6-27-16By Henry Buckley

Sunrise Senior Living presented a revised version of an assisted living facility plan to the Pleasantville Village Board Monday night that calls for a single access point to the property and incorporates the community center into the building.

The developer, who is seeking a zoning code amendment for the four-acre parcel owned by the United Methodist Church on Bedford Road, would construct the 79-unit building into the property’s elevation, making it appear a two-and-a-half-story structure in front and one-and-a-half stories in back. While the number of floors inside wouldn’t change, the appearance of the previous iteration of the building would have been three stories in front and two stories in back.

“We believe this is the best scheme as of now,” said Jerry Liang, Sunrise Senior Living’s vice president of investments and development, after being asked about the new access point by Mayor Peter Scherer. “The church has two inefficiently placed entrances. Our conjoined entrance would allow for cohesion in regard to access.”

Since plans were made public last July, Sunrise, backed by the investment group Bedford Road Partners, has appeared several times before the village board. The developer is looking to accommodate officials’ and neighboring residents’ concerns. No formal application has been submitted yet.

Sunrise must first obtain a change from a residential to a commercial zone from the village board before receiving site plan approval from the planning commission to build the facility. A previous application from Benchmark Senior Living for a structure containing 87 units narrowly failed in its attempt for a rezone in 2014.

Liang and project architect Chuck Heath said Sunrise has a successful history of integrating its facilities into residential neighborhoods. Heath detailed the plan’s most recent changes, many of which were made as a result of residents’ concerns.

The last time Sunrise representatives appeared in March, they presented two plans showing multiple scenarios for access points, community center locations and building location and size. The developer has now settled on a hybrid of the two plans.

The latest update calls for a shared entrance for the new facility and the church on Maple Hill Road.

Scherer asked if a traffic light would be placed at the intersection of Maple Hill and Bedford Road. Liang said that matter would have to be discussed with the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

Heath said that the new community center will be part of the facility. Previously, plans showed the center built into the church and as a standalone entity.

The last significant change concerns the facility’s size and location. In March, the building appeared to be three stories tall and in relatively close proximity to neighboring residences on Maple Hill Road, sparking criticisms from residents.

The new plan contains 79 units using the property’s natural slope making the building appear shorter.

Also, Sunrise representatives had originally proposed anywhere from 75 to 85 units.

“We’re trying to get as far away from our neighbors to the rear as possible and maintain as much green view for them as we can,” Heath said.

Liang sought support from the parcel’s neighbors on Maple Hill Road. He expressed hope that the adjustments made would help ease their anxiety.

However, Maple Hill resident Bill Stoller, who has strongly opposed the Benchmark application and more recently Sunrise’s pitches, wasn’t convinced the new plan is an improvement.

“I support bringing assisted living to the village but firmly believe this is the wrong location for the project,” Stoller said. “The board encountered a similar plan in 2014 and voted it down; Sunrise’s proposal should follow suit.”

Sy Gruza, an attorney representing Sunrise, posed three questions to the village board. He asked if the developer’s decision to reduce the number of units, move the entrance to Maple Hill Road and include a community center within the structure have improved the proposal’s chances.

“These three questions of ours are the last phase of this process,” Gruza said.

Scherer suggested a future work session to address the developer’s questions. He also inquired about the likelihood of an application making its way to the village.

“Although you’ve made significant progress, I remain a skeptic,” said Scherer, who turned out to be the deciding vote in Benchmark’s failed rezone request. “That being said, if a formal application is submitted it will receive the fair hearing it deserves.”

When asked for a specific timetable for an application, Heath said it could happen in 60 to 90 days. But Liang then added that “we aren’t yet ready to provide a specific date.”







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