By Alex Bridges
Foes of a proposed nursing home in Warren County may prefer the use of the land to others, warn planning officials.
The Planning Commission on Wednesday heard concerns from residents about a conditional-use permit sought by a property owner to build an assisted living facility at Harmony Hollow and Harmony Orchard roads. The commission held a public hearing on the request filed by Betty West to build the facility on the 10-acre lot owned by Glenwood Homes and zoned for agricultural in the South River District.
Plans call for the construction of a single-story, 18,000-foot center for 30 full-time residents. The facility would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The center will contain 30 resident rooms, staff station, a kitchen, entertainment room, library and a dining area.
The commission, after hearing speakers' concerns, decided to delay action on the permit request until its meeting in November to give time for the developer and Greenway Engineering to bring back more information on the proposal. The commission also had received letters from several property owners who voiced concerns and raised questions about the proposal.
The permit request still must go to the Board of Supervisors. which will hold a public hearing on the matter before taking final action.
Planning Director Taryn Logan said Friday the commission sought information on the location of the drainfield needed for the required septic system. Members also asked the department to compile a list of uses available to the developer for the site either through a conditional-use permit or by right under the county code.
"We're definitely working with the neighbors and the applicant to put conditions [on the permit] that would help alleviate their concerns," Logan said.
But as the director noted, the applicant could opt to develop the property for any number of uses either by permit or by-right, which does not require such approval. Short-term tourist rental is a by-right use in the agricultural district, according to Logan.
Logan already has recommended conditions on the permit, such as requiring the facility have a chalet-style design to blend in with the single-family homes in the neighborhood; that a drainage study be performed on the property and submitted to the county; and that limitations are put on the light poles.
Logan noted one of the letters submitted had signatures of more than 30 residents who live near the site. Harmony Hollow Manor residents in letters submitted to the county claim the private, restrictive covenants filed with the land record associated with the site prohibits any use of the property other than for single-family residential purposes.
Greenway Engineering project manager Niki Adhikusuma commented Friday the firm and the developer would work to address the concerns and questions raised by the commission and residents. Adhikusuma said an assisted living facility is a more appropriate use of the property.
Speakers expressed concerns the site lies in an area known to flood, and have submitted video and pictures proving such to the county planning department. The Federal Emergency Management Agency does not designate the area as a flood zone.
"We don't want to put a building where there is flooding," Adhikusuma said.
In 2009, West submitted documents with the county seeking to build a 14-lot cluster subdivision on the property and adjacent land also owned by the applicant. The county created the 10-acre lot when the applicant subdivided the orchard in 2003.
"The neighbors are concerned about what she has left, subdivision-rights wise, for the 15 and the 20 [acre lots]," Logan said, noting the department can only address the applicant's request related to the smaller property.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org