LAWRENCEVILLE - With baby boomers starting to retire and the demand for senior housing facilities on the rise, commissioners tonight will consider separate rezoning requests for two assisted living facilities that developers have proposed building.
The first request, for a second Noble Village senior living facility in Peachtree Corners, comes from Planning Commissioner Mark Gary, who already partially owns another Noble Village facility in Suwanee on Satellite Boulevard.
The second request, for a 128-bed facility on Meadow Church Road, is being handled by former Planning Commissioner Eric Johansen.
Gary's request was approved by both the planning department and the planning commission. Johansen's wasn't.
Johansen wants to know what's so different about the two proposals.
"The Peachtree Corners facility was immediately adjacent to R-100 (residential) property and R-60 (residential) property fronting Spalding Drive," Johansen said in an e-mail to the Daily Post. "How is the same type of project good enough for Peachtree Corners but not feasible for Meadow Church?"
According to the county's planning department in its site analysis, the Meadow Church site is not at an appropriate intersection or in the properly defined area as spelled out in the 2030 Unified Plan.
"Although the 2030 Unified Plan supports expanded housing opportunities for seniors, the existing/emerging suburban character area discourages commercial uses unless these are located at an appropriate intersection," the planning department's analysis states.
Johansen said he disagrees.
"One of the reasons for denial of this proposed project is the lack of conformity with the 2030 Unified Plan, which classifies the western side of Meadow Church Road as existing/emerging suburban and the eastern half of Meadow Church Road as regional mixed-use," Johansen said. "We believe the characterizations of the Unified Plan for this stretch of road is wrong. ... Meadow Church Road is simply not a residential corridor with 12,000 cars per day traveling this stretch of road from Sugarloaf Parkway to Duluth Highway."
The Meadow Church site has been an eyesore for nearby homeowners since development began there for a 14-lot single family subdivision that never came to fruition. Some nearby homeowners of the Sugarloaf County Club spoke in opposition to the project at the planning commission hearing last Tuesday while many more sitting in the audience in favor of the project did not speak for lack of time.
Johansen warned those opposing the project of what the consequences may be for the property.
"The community will be left with the eyesore for at least another 12 months," Johansen said. "Apartments, townhomes, possibly a hotel, another denser housing option or the very realistic possibility of a mega church with tons of parking and lights on the property as a use by right without any public input. These are the most likely zoning change requests if our request is turned down and the current zoning is not feasible."
Commissioner Kevin Kenerly will not participate in Gary's case because his mother lives in Gary's Satellite Boulevard facility. Commissioner Bert Nasuti, who will not be present at the meeting, last month tabled the case because he was checking into a potential conflict of interest regarding one of his law partners.
That leaves Gary's case in the hands of Chairman Charles Bannister, Commissioner Mike Beaudreau and the commissioner who appointed Gary to the planning commission, Shirley Lasseter.
Gary did not participate in the public hearings for his own case. He did vote against the Meadow Church facility though, as did all the planning commissioners.
Gary's other District 1 planning commissioner, Lynn Thorndyke, said Gary voted because he didn't have a financial interest in the Meadow Church property and because of that, no conflict of interest existed.
Thorndyke said in making her motion to deny the Meadow Church project that "two wrongs don't make a right."