Leaders need to say ‘yes’ to our elderly

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

With more and more baby boomers entering or nearing retirement, concerns can only grow in coming years about where this surging population of seniors will spend their golden years once they can no longer live on their own.

Now Brookhaven’s Board of Aldermen will be presented with a great opportunity to lead this community forward and help us prepare for the nationwide mushrooming demand for safe, comfortable and convenient assisted living facilities. The board has a reputable company willing to invest as much as $3 million dollars, pay wages for 25 local permanent employees, and pay city and county taxes. We cannot allow the controversy surrounding this private venture to defeat this much-needed improvement to our community. If Brookhaven says “no” it may not ever again have the chance to say “yes.” This company chose Brookhaven and could easily go elsewhere. Our senior citizens then could be faced with living outside their hometown.

Over the years since Brookhaven was recognized as a Certified Retirement City, various developers have tried to build assisted living centers in town, but time after time, obstacles were raised to keep the projects from becoming a reality.

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Last week, Magee-based Advanced Healthcare Management presented a request to the Brookhaven Planning Commission for an S-1 zoning distinction for its proposed assisted living facility on Silver Cross Drive behind Central Baptist Church. While many in the overall community have received AHM’s plans with open arms, residents of the nearby Meadowbrook neighborhood have voiced opposition to the location. To accommodate those concerns, AHM is only asking the city to provide S-1 zoning for the facility while the zoning for the neighborhood would remain residential (R-1).

With the S-1 distinction, the planning commission and board of aldermen will closely monitor the facility at every step of the way. AHM’s plans also already call for the natural green barrier of trees to remain in place between the facility and the neighborhood, and the only roadway into the facility will be from Silver Cross Drive. There will no access from East Meadowbrook Drive. The S-1 distinction will ensure that the proposed facility will not negatively affect the nearby neighborhood. Moreover, there already are medical facilities and a nursing home not far from the proposed location for the assisted living center.

Aside from the obvious need for such a facility for our growing senior population, this business will pump an estimated annual payroll of $500,000 into our economy. Once complete, it will provide 44 couples or individual seniors with very nice accommodations. Each resident will pay his or her own way to live there. In addition, the company could one day decide to expand to meet growing demand. Families could decide to move to Brookhaven to take advantage of an assisted living facility when they need such help.

This Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the planning commission will again take up the proposed S-1 distinction in the city boardroom. Then the planning commission will present its recommendation to the aldermen, who will then add it to their regular agenda for Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Pending the planning commission’s action this week, aldermen have been reluctant to voice a stance on this issue so far, but we strongly urge them to take a leadership stance and vote to solidify Brookhaven as a Certified Retirement Community. It’s time for Brookhaven to say “yes,” not “no” to current and future retired families.

It’s time to lead, not be led.