By Ashley Luthern
The village planning commission denied plans for a proposed senior- living complex, which means developers now must seek two variances from the board of zoning appeals.
Miller-Valentine Group of Cincinnati approached the village in November about building an independent senior-living complex of apartment units directly west of the post office on U.S. Route 224.
The planning commission met Wednesday and determined that the area is zoned professional office and service district, and by village definitions the project fell into the category of townhouse/apartment, which is permitted in that zoned area, said Councilman Bill Dunnavant.
“This particular operation is permitted there,” he said.
The commission also reviewed site plans but found that they did not comply with the zoning code. The village has a maximum of an 8,000-square-foot building footprint, and the plans call for 18,000 square feet, Dunnavant said.
Miller-Valentine already had lowered the number of proposed apartment units from 60 to 51.
“It also didn’t comply with height. We do allow a three-story structure, but the peaks of the proposed structure would exceed our maximum of an allowed height of a building,” Dunnavant said.
“The developer was aware that this was going to happen and knew the next step would be to go to the board of zoning appeals to ask for a variance for the square-footage and height,” he continued.
A meeting of the board of zoning appeals will be set for after the holidays, he said.
Miller-Valentine wants to know the outcome before February, when its application for tax credits to build the complex is due. The complex would house people age 55 and older who make less than 60 percent of adjusted median income, or about $30,000 or less a year, according to Vindicator files.
The developer also has asked for letters of support from the mayor and council to include with the tax-credit application,
“There are a lot of things to learn about this, and if anybody commits themselves yet to being for or against it, it’s a little premature,” Dunnavant said.
But at least one council member is openly opposed to the project.
Councilman Bob Limmer said the owner of the property where the developer wants to build had tried to develop it about 10 years ago into retail shops.
The village “didn’t want 24-hour use of the property. ... So a compromise was made to limit that building to a medical-office building,” Limmer said.
Atty. Anthony D’Apolito, village solicitor, was asked to review any deed restrictions on the property and court records from prior litigation relating to the earlier development proposals.
Limmer also said he’s concerned for potential renters because after 15 years, the property goes from fair-market value to market value.
“If I got in there at 55, then at 70 I’d have a sword over my head because it would go to market rate. People come in there to feel secure, and then they could be hit with a huge increase. I think that’s a major drawback,” Limmer said.
He also does not think there’s an immediate market for the complex because of the income requirements.
“The other concerns I’ve had is the whole concept of the low-cost housing coming into the community. I’ve equated it with Section 8” because it falls under the same federal guidelines, Limmer said.
When a Miller-Valentine representative first brought the project to council, he strongly denied that the complex was equivalent to Section 8 housing and stressed that it was for seniors on fixed incomes.
The developers have said “that they don’t want to come in if we don’t want them, and I take them at their word. They’ve requested a letter from the mayor and a resolution from council. I personally feel it’s just not applicable to our area and doesn’t fit into our village design, and it will be a blockbuster on [U.S. Route] 224,” Limmer said.
Limmer has requested a public hearing about the project.