In recent years, as town boards have
enacted building moratoriums on major subdivisions, developers have been
able to use 'senior housing' as an expedient end-run around
zoning. In regards to Senior Housing Southeast has very loose
zoning regulations. In fact, all senior housing is located
in the OP-2 (office park) zone. This allows a developer to
build a larger number of units per site, rather than if they were
located in a residential zone. Because of this there are over
1200 units of proposed senior housing in front of the Carmel
and Southeast Planning Boards.
For a map of proposed senior housing
Senior housing is an attempt to allow seniors to age gracefully
in their community. Senior housing in NYS includes some type of
age restriction for ownership (over 55). Senior housing should provide
common amenities, such as community buildings, various forms of
recreation, and walkable destinations. The community should
also be situated near non-senior housing to allow for interaction
with other age groups.
Senior housing at Terravest, as proposed, does not provide any of
the aforementioned amenities. By placing the units in the OP-2 zone
(office park) seniors will be isolated and placed in
an out-of-the-way location. The Terravest proposal calls for 60
senior units across Zimmer Road from the Ace Endico plant currently
under construction. In addition this community will be bisected
by the sewage treatment plant for Terravest l, ll and lll.
While Senior Housing sounds wonderful in theory there are definite
disadvatages to the current law in Southeast.
For example, if the developer is unable to market the units to seniors
it is possible to obtain a Special Permit from the town allowing
the developer to open the housing to all.Also,
age discrimination suits may be successfully brought if the housing
does not truly fit the definition of Senior Housing. Thus opening
up the units to all age groups.
Heritage Hills, a
case in point, was originally an adult community until several successful
lawsuits found that it discriminated against children. The complex
is now open to all.In Southeast that very scenario can happen and
might given the lack of Senior amenities, the floor plan (especially
the 3 bedroom aspect), and a desire for new, less expensive
housing in our town.
Another concern in
Southeast is the net effect on taxes. Tax burdens can actually
increase. As local seniors move out of their homes and into senior
complexes they leave behind a vacant home. This home may be
sold to a family with school age children and it costs approximately
$18,000 to educate a child in Southeast. The only way these
costs can be met is through increased tax revenue either at the
local level or state level. The combined tax revenue generated from
both the senior unit and recently vacated single family
home will not cover the cost of two new school age children thus school
taxes will have to be raised.
There can also be
Medicaid costs that are absorbed at the County level so
that County taxes may have to be raised as well.
We need to look at ways that allow our seniors to
stay in their homes as long as possible. Allowing accessory apartments
in the existing home of a senior is one possibility giving seniors
the financial ability to 'age in place'.
Also some towns, such as Patterson, only allow state licensed senior
housing thereby providing a community for seniors to live and receive
the necessary attention they deserve. We can and should provide
housing for our seniors but this housing must be good
for the entire community. CRSE urges that the Southeast Town
Board enact a moratorium on Senior Housing until stricter criteria
and more creative solutions can be found.