Neighbors protest Eventide expansionArea residents’ protests Monday delayed zoning approval changes needed for expanding a Jamestown care facility.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Area residents’ protests Monday delayed zoning approval changes needed for expanding a Jamestown care facility.
Eventide at Hi-Acres sought the zoning changes during a Jamestown Planning Commission meeting Monday. The action would take two lots that Eventide had purchased along Second Street Southeast and switch the zoning from residential single family homes to public, open development and conservation. The zoning change would allow the facility to expand onto the lots.
“Our protest represents 100 percent of the people eligible to protest this,” said Joel Traiser, speaking on behalf of the area residents. “Eventide is a great asset to the community but the neighborhood is being encroached by this large organization.”
Only residents within 150 feet of a property requesting a zoning change, excluding streets, are eligible to formally protest the change. Seven property owners were eligible to protest in this case and all seven signed a letter of protest.
Doug Panchot, executive director of Eventide at Hi-Acres, said the two lots it had purchased were part of a larger project envisioned for the facility.
“As Eventide purchased Hi-Acres in 2010 it had a vision to enhance the facility with a complete campus makeover,” he said. “It will give us an opportunity to partner with Jamestown in enhancing senior services.”
Panchot said plans included building on a portion of one lot but the other would serve as a green space or buffer between the nursing home and the residential neighborhood.
Traiser said Eventide had applied pressure to the residents of the area.
“They purchased property at a huge premium with the assumption they could change the zoning,” he said. “What we’re seeing is an effort to destroy an R1 neighborhood with strong-arm tactics.”
R1 is the zoning designation for a single family home area.
Traiser defined the strong-arm tactics as paying a premium for the property and expecting the zoning to be changed.
“I don’t think the property owners understood the scope of the project or its impact on their property,” he said.
The zoning change had been recommended for approval by SRF Consulting, which was serving in an advisory capacity to the commission for the first time since it had been hired in November.
“Our recommendation was based on the compatibility of the land use with the neighborhood,” said Cindy Gray, planner for SRF. “We would view assisted living as compatible with residential neighborhoods. It seemed to be a compatible arrangement with existing use.”
Harley Trefz, Planning Commission chairman, said because the protests amounted to more than 20 percent of the eligible area, the zoning change would require a 75 percent vote in favor to pass the City Council.
“Given the protests, I would think it would be difficult to see this get a favorable vote,” Trefz said.
The Planning Commission postponed action on the zoning change until the February meeting. It also recommended Eventide have its architects prepare a full set of plans including elevation drawings of the exterior walls so neighbors could view how the project would affect their property. Eventide was also urged to meet with all people in the neighborhood to explain the project in more depth.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com