P&Z Watch: Transition of Skilled Nursing Home to 213-Unit 8-30g – “An Intensification of Use”

Following a lengthy discussion of a controversial pre-application for a 8-30g at Comly Ave and Pemberwick Rd, a second discussion at the Jan 10 Planning & Zoning commission meeting featured an 8-30g pre-application with almost as many units up at 1165 King Street, located across the street from New York state line.

The proposal is to change Greenwich Woods from a skilled nursing facility to a 213-unit 8-30g apartment building on a 15.9 acre parcel.

The five-story apartment building would have 213 apartments rather than 217 nursing home units, an an increase from 119 to 254 parking spaces. The property is just to the north of Sacred Heart Greenwich.

Since the commission previously discussed the proposal, the applicant changed their mind about building off the existing footprint. Today the proposal is to demolish the existing building and create one long building with two wings.

Also since the last meeting, the applicant discussed sewer agreement with Westchester (the nursing home has permission to tap into the New York sewer system), which was set to last 30 years starting in 2000.

Mr Heagney said the agreement has now been extended through 2064.

“We’re anticipating during the life of the new building, that it would still have the sewer connection to Westchester,” he said.

The site is served by Aquarion water.

There are a number of wetland pockets on the property, but Mr. Heagney said having walked the property with then director of Environmental Affairs Pat Sesto last year, she had said two small pockets of wetlands could be supplanted elsewhere on the site.

“We will be able to add to and augment two larger wetland areas on the eastern portion of the property. It’s not done all the time, but I have done it on a number of occasions where you take what is not particularly valuable wetland and support one that is much larger and more valuable,” Heagney explained. “That’s how we’re able to put those two parking areas to the north.”

He said the applicant intended to meet with the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Also, the idea of maintaining a portion of the skilled nursing facility, Greenwich Woods, remained a possibility, and discussions were ongoing with the owners of the property and the state.

Architect Rich Granoff said the design was site specific, with parking to the north and as much open space as possible.

Inside the main entrance will be a grand lobby, lounge area, an indoor pool, a gym, a food vending machine area, and mail room. The basement will be primarily storage and mechanicals.

There would be a walking path around the entire site.

The existing street entrance across from Lincoln Avenue would be maintained.

“We’re trying to create a ‘suburban oasis,’ where we have this building in the middle of the site and all around there would be useful areas to recreate, vistas of trees and planted areas. We have some pickle ball courts in there, and tables and chairs,” Granoff said.

Ms Alban said she did not foresee major life-safety issues with the proposal.

Her concern was that it was misleading to say the proposal would have 213 units compared to 217 in the existing nursing home because the latter features single rooms and the proposed units have varying bedroom counts.

“You don’t have units now. You have rooms in a nursing home,” she said. “It misleads anyone who reads it now.”

The applicant’s plan is actually for 387 bedrooms in 213 units.

“We were worried about sewer,” Alban added. “If you have the sewer agreement going out, we want to make sure the flows can be handled.”

“We’re going to want to make sure Aquarion can supply the water because this is going to be an intensification of use. The nursing home may be very water intensive because I think they do a lot of laundry.”

“I didn’t really understand why an 8-30g here, where you have minimal access to transit?” Alban asked.

Heagney said there were bus stops right in front of the building heading both north and south on King Street.

Ms Alban noted the buses run to downtown Port Chester.

She said while she didn’t quite understand the plan for wetlands, the Wetlands Agency did supersede zoning and an 8-30g.

“If IWWA approve it, they have standing that’s above zoning. They stand up to an 8-30g,” Alban said.

She said she was surprised the applicant planned to keep a scaled down nursing home in operation.

Mr. Heagney said it would serve a continued need in the community, especially given the town-owned Nathaniel Witherell was the only nursing home left in town.

Alban said she suggested instead offering assisted living, possibly senior assisted living as part of the 8-30g affordability, for some of the units, given that skilled nursing homes need economies of scale to break even.

“You need to be big because it’s extraordinarily expensive,” Alban said.

See also:

P&Z Watch: 160 Attendees Pack a Viral Meeting on Large 8-30g Proposed for Pemberwick