Planning commission to revisit zoning matter this week

The Brookhaven Planning Commission will continue to review a proposal to provide an S-1 zoning distinction for the planned Advanced Healthcare Management Assisted Living Facility on Silver Cross Drive.

After first reviewing the matter last Thursday, the commission will hold a second open meeting Thursday, Aug 14, at 5:30 p.m. in the aldermen’s boardroom to continue discussions about the project. The boardroom is on the first floor of the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex.

The commission decided to have a second meeting due to a requirement that the owner of the land petition for the special use. Although Central Baptist was represented by Ryan Thurman, a deed was not brought as proof of ownership.

Advanced Healthcare Management wants to build and operate an assisted living facility on Silver Cross Drive, behind Central Baptist Church near the Brookhaven medical corridor. The proposed location is currently zoned R-1 (single family residential area), as is the nearby Meadowbrook neighborhood, which is accessed by East and West Meadowbrook Drives.

AHM has revealed plans to construct a building with a brick exterior that will provide assisted living for 44 retirees. The facility will offer a variety of features, such as rehabilitation therapy, daily wellness activities, three full meals, individualized support/assistance programs, a lounge and visiting areas, light nursing support, weekly housekeeping and linens and a walking trail.

The site plan calls for a natural green barrier of trees to be left in place between the facility and neighborhoods, and there will no access from East Meadowbrook Drive. The only roadway into the facility will be from Silver Cross Drive.

Originally, Advanced Healthcare had planned on petitioning for the site to be rezoned to R-3 (multifamily residential). However, Joe Stephens, representing Advanced Healthcare’s interest at last Thursday’s commission meeting, said the group decided to apply for S-1 instead after speaking with residents in the area. Residents voiced concern with the future impact of a rezoning, and Stephens said S-1 would offer the residents more protection.

Petitioning for S-1 is not the same as petitioning for rezoning because the area currently zoned as R-1 will remain R-1.

R-1 zones are reserved for homes and restricts commercial properties from being built, but certain community amenities are allowed if approved by the Board of Aldermen.

An S-1 distinction would not rezone the area nor give other commercial properties the same distinction without going through the same process.

Brookhaven residents are divided over the issue. Residents of the Meadowbrook community feel that building the facility would not contribute to the area and that the facility would lower their property value. Supporters in the Brookhaven community say that the new facility will give older residents the option to stay in the city, create jobs for residents and bring in revenue.

The planning commission will review the arguments made for and against the distinction when it meets again Thursday and then will present the commission’s recommendation to the Board of Aldermen. The aldermen will then take the commission’s recommendation under consideration and have the final vote to allow or deny the S-1 distinction for AHM.

The meeting last Thursday was the first planning commission discussion about the project. Before developing a final recommendation, the commission elected to hold another open meeting Thursday. The group will continue to hear from both sides on the issue.

After this Thursday’s meeting, the planning commission will present their proposal to the board of Aldermen, who will then add it to their regular agenda for Tuesday, Aug. 19. At that time, the board can vote on the matter and make a decision regarding the S-1 distinction.

If either party is not satisfied with that outcome, they may appeal to the board of aldermen within 10 days and have the topic discussed in a separate special meeting. If they are still concerned, either party can take the issue to court.

Ward One Alderman David Phillips said the aldermen generally accept the recommendations made by the planning commission. He added that the board tries to stay out of the process as to not influence or put pressure on the commission.

Other aldermen were contacted on the matter but declined to comment pending the planning commission’s recommendation.