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Town clears way for $8 million assisted living facility

Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Construction could start on an $8 million assisted living facility in Bowling Green in 2014, and it could open in 2015.

On a recommendation for approval by the Bowling Green Planning Commission, the Bowling Green Town Council approved measures on Dec. 12 that will allow the facility. It will be called New Hope and will be located on a 3.5 acre parcel on the north side of Milford Street and the east side of Trewalla Lane.

“This $8 million investment in our town is nothing to take light,” Bowling Green Mayor David Storke said during the meeting. “This is a local group of folks coming to us to contribute to our town to the tune of $8 million.

“People will come here to visit family members,” the mayor added. “We can all think of folks who left our community because we didn’t have a facility like this. We all know someone who could use a facility like this and I’m in whole-hearted support of this project.”

After the mayor made his comments, the Town Council unanimously approved of a motion by Glenn McDearmon, vice mayor, to rezone the property from R-1 to R-3. On a motion from councilor Otis Wright, the Town Council approved of a special use permit that restricts the height of the building to 45 feet from the ground level. The facility must also have a 10-foot wide buffer of plants along property lines adjacent to houses. The council also put a limit of 100 units at the facility.

The facility will have three levels of care. Level 1 is for someone who is fairly independent, but might need help with taking medications or help with one daily living activity. Level 2 is for someone who needs assistance with two to four daily living activities. Level 3 is for someone who has more intensive dependence upon others and might need help in four or more daily living activities.

Daily living activities will include bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, eating/feeding, bowel and bladder. Independent activities of living will include meal preparation, housekeeping, laundry and money management.

During the public hearing several residents who live near the site asked questions but did not voice opposition to the proposed facility. Virginia Melson asked if town taxes would increase due to the facility and whether the town would have to provide upkeep of the facility. But town officials answered no to both questions. The facility will connect to the town’s water and sewer system and will have to pay a water and sewer bill, officials said.

“I’m in favor of the facility,” Melson said in an interview. “It will bring business to our local businesses.”

Mary Scott Haley raised questions about storm water runoff because her property is downhill from the facility property and she has a two-acre pond. Out-of-control storm runoff could flood the pond and destroy it. The pond has historical significance because it was used for canoeing and ice-skating by students of the woman’s seminary that used to be nearby.

Town Manager Steve Manster said studies will be done in accordance with state regulations to assure that storm water runoff will not be a problem. Caroline County staff members are well-versed in storm water management and in meeting state regulations and will help the town with this, he added.

“There will be no impact to our tax structure in Bowling Green” in relation to the assisted living facility, Manster said.

Planning commissioner Armando Flores asked if property near the facility will increase in tax assessments.

Manster said no at first, but then added, “Only assessors can tell us that.”

Gene Self, a planning commissioner, said, “I’m hoping it will bring more doctors and satellite businesses in to service the needs of the facility.”

Matt Rowe, a planning commissioner, asked if poles and pinnacles would be exempt from the 45 foot height restriction and Manster said yes.

“My biggest concern is for something that will fit in with Milford Street,” Rowe said. “If it’s not higher than the Johnson Coleman house, it should be OK.” Initially, Rowe suggested the town restrict the height of the facility to 35 feet as measured from the curb, but later changed it to 45 feet from the base of the building.

Self made a motion that the commission recommend approval of the rezoning and it passed unanimously. Rowe made a motion to recommend a special use permit that restricts the building height to 45 feet, as measured from the ground, and that motion passed unanimously.

The commission and council met in the same room, one right after the other, to expedite the process of rezoning the property.

The mayor commented during the meeting, “The town tried to be nimble and tried to be quick. If you had to go to Richmond to do this, you would have six months worth of meetings. We try to be quick when people come to us.”

Andrea G. Erard, the town’s part-time attorney, said most non-profits like New Hope pay real estate taxes, but that depends on exemptions. “I expect this facility will pay real estate taxes—also personal property and business taxes.”

New Hope “will be a significant financial impact to the town,” McDearmon said. Town taxes will not have to increase because of the facility. “This project stands on its own.”

New Hope “will be within walking distance of the town and its merchants,” the vice mayor said. “This organization is sensitive to the environmental requirements. They want to do the right thing for this project. This will be an asset to the entire community.”

David Upshaw, representing Caroline Care Group, said after the meeting, “We hope to start construction with the next 12 months, and it will take one year to construct the facility.” The group will have to borrow $8 million and will use the 3.5 acre parcel as equity for the loan. Webb Investment Group representatives said they would donate the land once it was rezoned.

Upshaw roughly estimated that units at the facility will rent for about $3,000 a month. “We’re trying to make it affordable. It will have 24-hour nursing care, along with assistance with medications.” One floor will provide housing for residents who have memory problems.

The boomerang-shaped building will have a dinning hall so that residents won’t have to eat alone in their apartments. It will have two parking lots for golf carts, along with two gazebos, a pavilion and a walking trail.

“We’ll have an emphasis on the community,” said Upshaw, a local pastor. “I envision adult exercise classes and adults from the community can come in and participate. We want to have a family movie night and residents at New Hope can have their families come in , along with other families. Choirs will come in and sing.”

Upshaw also envisions art shows and craft fairs at New Hope.

The facility will generate about 210 vehicles per day, according to an impact statement. Water and sewer usage for the facility will be about 20,000 gallons per day.