Assisted Living Facility Project May Be Scaled Down

Howell Town Hall (Photo courtesy of Howell Township)

HOWELL – After members of the township’s Board of Adjustment raised concerns about buffer zones and the parking at a proposed assisted living facility, the developer of the project decided to scale down his proposal and return to the board at a later date.

Troy Veach, a representative from Idaho-based Bee Hive Homes, testified before the board at its January 9 meeting, pitching a small assisted living facility the company was looking to open at 985 Route 33, across the street from The Cabin restaurant. Proposed were two buildings – one an assisted living facility and the other a memory care unit – that measured 11,799 square feet and 8,200 square feet, respectively. A smaller facility than most of its kind, Veach said the larger building would house 21 residents and the memory care unit would house 16 residents.

“What’s different about what we do as a company compared to what you’ll find anywhere else in the United States is that our concept is basically a home feel,” said Veach.

The business, he said, would employ 22 to 24 staff members, about five or six of whom would be on the premises at a given time. The facility would also house hospice patients if the needs of a resident grew to require those services.

“Our resident is typically a resident who needs assistance,” said Veach. “They’re coming to us for a reason.”

  The project faced concerns from board members over the number of parking spaces required to accommodate both staff members and residents’ family members coming to visit. The largest concern was over buffer zones between the facility and neighboring properties. One of the neighbors is a farm and therefore falls under an ordinance that prescribes a specific “farm buffer.” In the case of the Bee Hive Homes facilities, a buffer of about 60 feet would be required under the ordinance, where 50 feet was proposed since an easement took up about 10 feet of the zone.

“That easement cannot be in the farmland buffer,” said board chairman Wendell Nanson. “Easements can’t be part of the farmland buffer. I’ve been on the board a long time, this has come up before, and we’ve never permitted the easement to be in the farmland buffer.”

A septic tank proposed for the project also would need to be moved outside of the buffer, officials said.

Todd Cohen, the attorney representing Bee Hive Homes, said the company would likely scale down the project to a single building to accommodate a larger buffer and more parking spaces. The company will return to the board at its February 27 meeting with new plans, Cohen said.