Senior Housing Back

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 click here

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.

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