Design board should OK Gilbert assisted living site - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Design board should OK Gilbert assisted living site

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Posted: Saturday, June 24, 2006 7:22 am | Updated: 3:58 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

One look at the vacant corner of Gilbert Road and Long Meadow Drive, and it would seem to be an obvious location for a new senior living center that’s desperately needed in the growing south East Valley.

Virginia-based Sunrise Senior Living wants to build a full-service complex that offers rental units for healthy seniors who don’t want the hassle of owning a home, The project also would have residency facilities for seniors who need in-home assistance and for those ailing from Alzheimer’s disease. The intended role of the center is to allow seniors to live closer to their families and to move through the later stages of their lives without relocating several times.

Sunrise selected this four-acre site because it has the proper zoning and would serve as a nice transition between the single-family homes in the Lago Estancia subdivision and other commercial/retail businesses along Gilbert Road.

Gilbert offers few places for the elderly to reside when they shouldn’t be on their own any longer. So Sunrise officials believe they should be a welcome addition. Sunrise already has placed complexes with most of these services in Chandler, Scottsdale and Tucson with little attention.

But dozens of neighbors in Lago Estancia are fighting the project, primarily because the two proposed buildings would be three stories tall. They claim the project would intrude on their privacy by allowing Sunrise residents to peer into their backyards.

The protests prompted the city Design Review Board to delay Sunrise’s application until July 6 in an attempt to forge a compromise. But Sunrise already has made significant changes to its original design, reducing one building’s height from four stories and reorienting the rental units closer to the street. Sunrise would make every reasonable effort to protect nearby homes with more than 100 feet of setback and the planting of trees and other landscaping.

The protesters don’t want to be reasonable. They want to force Sunrise into uneconomical single-story buildings, despite the applicable zoning rules. These residents shouldn’t be able to unilaterally dictate what Sunrise could do. They aren’t offering to buy the land at market rates.

The Design Board Review needs to move forward so Sunrise can pursue the use of this property as allowed by law and our state’s constitution.

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