Woodstock Council OKs first reading for senior living facility
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
February 28, 2013 12:00 AM | 1580 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WOODSTOCK — Plans for a senior living and memory care facility in Woodstock raised concerns from several residents who opposed the development during Monday’s City Council meeting.

Despite the concerns, the Council unanimously approved the first reading of the request to annex about 5½ acres of the property and to rezone the entire 8-acre site to senior living to accommodate the proposed use.

The second reading is expected to be March 11.

Developed by Merrill Gardens, the facility is slated to be built at 12590 Highway 92.

The Council approved the request with two additional conditions, which require a gate be installed at the northwest corner along the access road and signage designating the access road as a one-way street for emergency vehicle use only.

The gate would be connected to Woodstock’s fire alarm system and have a universal Knox Box system, per Fire Chief Dave Soumas’ recommendation.

At Monday’s meeting, Ron Buchanan, construction manager for the project, said Merrill Gardens is a nationally recognized developer headquartered in Seattle and the development should create about 45 jobs.

During the public hearing, Sandra Kramer, who lives on the 100 block of Lakestone Parkway that is one of the five houses adjacent to the property, shared concerns about the lighting of the facility being too excessive and potential blasting that may occur during the development.

“This above all else is the most concerning,” Kramer said, adding there could be a fault or a hidden danger beneath the earth.

Her husband Jim Kramer had requested a 25-foot buffer and fencing between his home and the assisted living facility, which was included in the Planning Commission recommendation.

Another resident whose home borders the new development, Ann Louise McCormick, also had concerns about the development and questioned why the area was chosen, as there are other areas along Highway 92 already zoned for senior living.

“I don’t think this is a good fit for the area,” the 15-year Woodstock resident said.

In his response, Buchanan said the soil test borings have been performed and no substantial rock formations were found,. He said he has not received a formal report yet but expects it next week.

When asked by Council Member Liz Baxter about the delay in results, Buchanan said the processor is running behind due to recent rainfall.

Buchanan added he intends to comply with the city’s “dark skies” code requirement, which requires lights to refract inward and prohibits upward lighting.

“All of our lighting has to reflect into our property,” Buchanan said. “The only thing that would be above the second level would be emergency stairwells… and doors that have exits. We would not have floodlights or anything of that nature.”

Regarding potential blasting, Chief Building Official Duane Helton said developers are required to get state permits to blast, notify residents within a three-fourth mile radius 24 hours in advance and purchase insurance to cover any damage.

Helton added that if blasting is required, it will take at least another four months for the developer to obtain required state permits and complete the city’s required packet of information.

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