FIRST PLACE, Opinion
The Village at Whispering Pines Senior Living Community is proposed to be an age-in-place senior living facility that allows people form the age of 55 and older to age in place from single family homes, to independent living, to assisted living and includes memory care for people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. This assisted living facility includes 496 housing units on a 90-acre parcel in Rotterdam. It also includes a nine-hole executive golf course and clubhouse, swimming pools, salons, restaurants and on-site doctor officers.
You may be thinking, “Why is this so controversial” and my answer to that is one that’s based off of unbiased research. The building site the developers chose to place this project is currently an agriculture zone and the builders are proposing to create a new zoning district called a senior living district.
The issue people have with this is the senior living district is a commercial enterprise that’s being sited in residential zoning. Current zoning regulations don’t allow commercial buildings in agricultural or residential zones. Without a zone change, this project can’t exist, as mixing commercial zoning with residential or agriculture zoning is highly restricted.
Since this is a commercial project, there will be 220 employees and will require support services for the 700 residents in addition to the employees and guests, which practically makes this a small village. This would entail delivery of food, beverages, linens, etc., to support the facility.
Deliveries on large trucks that are never seen on the residential streets would become a common occurrence. Recently, the Rotterdam Town Board approved a 20-mph speed limit through the Mohonasen-Draper middle and high school zone. A major concern would be increased truck traffic from concrete to dump trucks demanded to build this facility over a four-year period.
The surrounding neighbors are up in arms because this project will impact the character of the neighborhood, quality of life and property values. So, the question at large is do we construct an age-in-place facility for our senior citizens at the expense of residential neighbors who invested in their properties to live in a peaceful neighborhood?
My opinion on all of this after my research, as a resident of the neighborhood in front of the Whispering Pines site for 13 and a half years, is this project shouldn’t be happening. This side of my town isn’t commercial, so why would someone decide to put in a 40-to-60-foot-high facility in it?
The residents of my neighborhood enjoy the peace, quiet and privacy the woods and Whispering Pines Golf Course has to offer. The developers of the facility would need to tear down the woods, which add character and beauty to Rotterdam.
Also, Helderberg Avenue is already busy as is, with it being a road where people speed on. If you added all the extra traffic, residents would be even more subjected to danger while trying to go for a walk or run.
In terms of my own personal interest in the project, my childhood friends and I grew up in those woods. My sister Christy and old best friends Juliana, Zac and Christina were constantly exploring these woods, making “movies” in them. My brother and his old best friend, Christopher, were also constantly in the woods, getting messy and growing up. This site is where lasting memories were made, unforgettable bonds were formed, and where the seven of us all grew up into the teens we are today.
This age-in-place facility is a great idea. However, it’s not right for this residential zone. In the building of this facility, we would be destroying the peace and quiet of the neighborhoods surrounding it and all of the memories made in the woods, along with the homes of the natural wildlife. If the builder of this project would just reconsider the site, everyone could be happy.
The neighborhoods could keep their peace and quiet, the streets wouldn’t be unbearably busy and the builder on the project could, of course, have this age-in-place facility – but somewhere else.