Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:10 p.m. Whispering Pines golf course remains open while the proposal is discussed.
ROTTERDAM — A public hearing will take place on May 24, as the Rotterdam Town Board considers whether to approve plans for a 680-unit senior citizen housing complex at the Whispering Pines golf course on Helderberg Avenue.
The board voted Wednesday to go forward with the hearing on the proposed Whispering Pines Village, even though at least two board members expressed concerns about its size. The project would include several kinds of housing, a medical facility and some retail space.
The public hearing on a rezoning necessary for the project will begin at 7 p.m. on May 24 at the Mohonasen High School’s Center for Advanced Technology. Town Supervisor Steven Tommasone said the hearing will remain open through at least the June 10 Town Board meeting, with no decisions before then.
The $87 million project was proposed for the 96-acre site in January. Developer Lou Lecce said it would include 278 independent living apartments, 144 assisted living units, 108 units of “memory care” nursing home-style care and 150 single-family cottages. With limited exceptions, those living there would have to be at least 55 years old. The project would be served by public sewer and water.
Construction would take place in phases over a number of years, Lecce has said. Nine holes of the Whispering Pines facility will remain as an “executive golf course.” Other amenities would include a restaurant, a residential dining hall and cafe, an indoor pool and fitness center, personal care, recreation, conference and business facilities and outdoor gathering areas connected by walking trails.
A 5,000-square-foot medical office/urgent care facility is also part of the plan.
The town Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning, from agricultural to senior living, in April, but the final decision is up to the Town Board.
Since the project was approved, some residents of the Helderberg Avenue area have expressed concerns about traffic and other issues, and Town Board member Joseph Villano was outspoken about his opposition at Wednesday’s meeting, during a discussion before the hearing was set.
“Ultimately, this is a terrible project based on scope and for a number of other reasons,” Villano said. “We are specifically creating this zone for one project, but it does not fit where it is.”
Board member Richard Larmour said the size of the project should be scaled back, with one of his main concerns being traffic.
“It’s a dangerous road without all this added traffic,” Larmour said. “I do believe in the project, but as a scaled-down project where you don’t have as much of an impact.”
Tommasone has generally spoken favorably of the plan and responded to criticisms of it, but he said he hasn’t made a decision on whether to support it.
“I hear all the time it’s a done deal; that’s just not the case,” he said. “We’ll have much more dialogue.”
If the zoning change is approved, Whispering Pines will need to go back before the Planning Commission for a detailed review before construction could start.