Senior housing on hold in Bethany

BETHANY - Senior housing projects will be on hold in Bethany for one year as of the first of February. The town's Planning and Zoning Commission placed the one-year moratorium on applications involving any zone change to elderly housing, and any site plan application or special exception application for elderly housing.

Few members of the public voiced opinions during the public hearing on the proposal at the regular monthly meeting of the commission last Wednesday.

Chairman Sharon Huxley explained that the Commission will be fixing Section 9, Bethany Elderly Housing Regulations.

"When reviewing the active elderly housing regulation, a significant number of questions were raised that need to be addressed," Huxley said. "With the current regulation, the Commission is not in position to approve anything."

Conservation Commission Chairman, Ken Martin, spoke in favor of the revision. The current regulation, he said, "has no provision for open space and allows high density. This could endanger the public water supply."

Hoping that the regulation could be corrected as soon as possible, Town Treasurer Newton Borgerson, Jr., who represented the Ad Hoc Committee on Senior Housing, offered the help of that committee "in any way you (the P&Z) ask."

As former Chairman of the P&Z Commission, Borgerson said, "I recognize the problems with the regulation and personally take responsibility for it."

Remaining public comment was voiced by resident Pat Stewart, a vocal opponent of the active elderly housing development previously proposed for her neighborhood.

Stewart said, "I have confidence in this Commission - that you will proceed cautiously and thoughtfully to preserve our town and provide housing for our seniors."

During the discussions on the active senior housing proposal in May, 2003, concerns about the lack of detail on several standards for this and over-aged 65 senior housing emerged, including: would calculation of density be accomplished by counting housing units, bedrooms or people; how would the arrangement of the housing be done — across the site or in "village" style with a provision for open space; how much open space would be appropriate; what amount of non-permeable surface would be required; and what types of septic and water systems would be appropriate.

The motion passed with a unanimous vote.