OV BoA approves special exception for assisted-living facility

The Ocean View Board of Adjustment this week unanimously approved an application for a special exception submitted by Robert Thornton of Silver Woods.

Thornton’s request for a special exception allows for an independent and assisted living facility, as well as Alzheimer’s care facility, on his property on Beaver Dam Road, which is zoned as a mixed-use planned community.

“I’ve been approached by three national firms that build assisted/independent living facilities,” explained Thornton. “They see an exceptional, almost dire, need for something like this in our community. We feel assisted-living is really the best and highest use for this area.”

Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader explained to the board that, in a mixed-use planned community, 50 percent of the property may be used for residential properties, while the other 50 percent may be used for commercial properties.

Board Chairman Bill Olsen read the definition of a special exception, which is a use that is “generally desirable for the general convenience and welfare but, because of its nature and location, requires additional review by the Board of Adjustment to assess its impact on neighboring properties in the entire town.”

“I think this is something that is needed in this area,” he added.

Public Works Supervisor Charlie McMullen noted to the board that anything that Thornton does with the property, even if it is granted the special exception, would still have to go before the Planning & Zoning Commission and town council for approval.

Schrader asked Thornton, of the 86 tractable acres of his property, how many would be used for the proposed healthcare facility. Thornton said approximately 7 acres would be used for a 136-unit facility.

“Where will this 5 or 6 acres be in relation to the proposed project that has been approved? Will it be along the main road?” asked Schrader.

“We haven’t edged it in stone. I don’t want to try to dictate… That is left to the engineers and the town planning and zoning people to approve once these entities decide where on the property they want to be located,” responded Thornton. He added that he did not expect the facility to exceed 150,000 square feet.

Board Member Susan Kerwin asked what percentage of the property would be labeled for commercial use.

“We don’t know how much would be allocated commercial and residential…We need guidance from the town on that,” said Thornton.

Thornton added that there will also be a pool facility and clubhouse for the residential community, and that the assisted-living facility would have its own separate recreation facilities.

McMullen noted that if the board approved the request for a special exception, Thornton would have to go to various committees, presenting a concept plan and gaining approval for a concept plan and approval from the town council before the facility could break ground.

“What everyone needs to understand here – there are a number of checks and balances that will oversee the development of the property,” he said.

Schrader asked Thornton how long he estimated it would be for the facility to be fully constructed and occupied.

“That’s usually an 18-month process,” said Thornton.

Schrader pointed out that, if approved, the facility must commence use within 12 months of the approval date, with the option of one 12-month extension to be granted by the board.

“The concern I have is, and the question is, do they and you know that if this was approved, the clock starts running?” asked Schrader.

“They do understand that,” said Thornton.

Edward Mathewson, who lives in Silver Woods, said he supports the building of an assisted living facility in town.

“We really have a need in this area for our blue-haired community. And I think he has a good argument that we need this in our community.”

Resident Eric West also said he was in favor of the board granting the special exception.

“The concept is basically a very sound one. I agree there is a need for something like this in our area.”

The board approved the request for a special exception with a 4-0 vote.

The board this week also heard a request for a variance submitted by Richard Parry, to allow for a side-lot encroachment of 7 feet for a carport with a second-floor dwelling area, and a front-yard encroachment of 3.5 feet for a proposed covered entryway.

Designer Derek Dutton spoke on behalf of the applicant and stated that Parry wanted to expand his residence by putting in a covered parking area that would not be enclosed but would have a second-floor area serving as a private home office.

“He would also like to put a cover over his existing entrance porch,” Dutton added. “It will be a contiguous structure… It would be done as closely as possible. It would be using the same materials, the lines and angles of the house. The idea is to make it look like it’s always been there.”

Dutton said that if the variances were granted, the additions to the current residence would not be attached to the original house, estimated to have been built in the 19th century, but would be built onto additions made to the house since then.

Schrader asked Dutton if the variance requested would be the minimum required for the structure. Dutton said that no more than 2 feet could be cut before the structure would no longer be feasible.

“Considering where the existing property line is, there is no way we’d be able to build the structure and get the car inside,” he said.

McMullen explained that Parry needs the variance due to the residence being built prior to the town code, with the house already encroaching seven feet into the front yard setback.

He added that the town had received a letter from Parry’s neighbor, Marie Bolen who voiced her concerns about runoff going into her property from the desired carport, possibly causing a swampy area in her yard and drawing mosquitoes.

Resident Mike Fraser spoke in support for Bolen and her concerns.

“Over the years, I have heard her concerns about the encroachment through their fence of the growth and just the expansion on that size of the property,” he said, adding that Bolen has had yard damage from construction trucks at Parry’s driving through the corner of her yard.

Greg Shaw, who lives across the street from Parry said that he will give Parry full permission to use his driveway for construction vehicles for future projects.

“His house is beautifully maintained. He’s forever out there taking care of the existing cedar, the existing paint,” he said. “To alleviate, he has full permission to use my driveway, which is three cars wide.”

Resident Bob Svenson voiced his support for the application, stating that Parry has taken great care and consideration of the design of the carport and covered porch.

“Ocean View is his primary residence. He works in England and travels quite a bit. He certainly enjoys the town of Ocean View.”

“As far as the front covered entry, I see no harm in that,” said Olsen. “The only thing I see with the expansion is whether you want to chop them down 2 feet or let them continue.”

“I don’t see where it would hurt anything,” responded Silvia.

The variances were granted with a board vote of 4-0.

The board also unanimously granted a variance request filed by William Goodwin to allow for a 2.4-foot side-lot-line encroachment to allow for the Goodwins to build an attached garage on their existing residence.