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Senior housing to undergo Act 250

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By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — One proposed Middlebury retirement community is about to undergo Act 250 review and another is well into that process, which could soon culminate in almost 240 new units of senior housing being erected in Addison County’s shire town.

Act 250 is a state environmental review process through which development proposals must satisfy 10 separate criteria. Those criteria include potential impacts on municipal services, traffic, water supply and area wildlife. Both the proposed Eastview at Middlebury project and the Lodge at Otter Creek have already received conditional approval from the local planning commission.

The District 9 Environmental Commission has already taken public testimony on Eastview, which would be built on 40 acres of Middlebury College-owned land off South Street Extension, adjacent to Porter Medical Center.

The Eastview project calls for 101 dwelling units, including 30 cottages and 37 apartments for able-bodied seniors; 18 apartments for seniors requiring assistance; and 16 apartments for people with memory loss afflictions, such as Alzheimer’s.

Eastview would be endowed with a formal dining room, a library, auditorium, hair salon, fitness studio, game/media room and a private dining room for special parties.

“We’re hoping to have our Act 250 permit shortly,” said Robert Alberts, principal of the Eastview project. “Hopefully, we’ll have that in the next couple of weeks.”

The District 9 Environmental Commission is currently reviewing the vast quantity of evidence and testimony that are part of the Eastview application, according to commission Coordinator Geoff Green. As the Addison Independent went to press, Green said the commission was waiting for a copy of Eastview’s lease for the 40-acre Middlebury property.

Eastview will have a relationship with Porter, but will be governed by a separate board of directors. Plans call for Porter to sublease the 40 acres of Middlebury College land to Eastview, thereby creating an important revenue stream for the hospital.

“The issue revolves around ownership and control; who controls the 40-acre parcel — Eastview, Middlebury College or Porter Hospital?” Green said.

The commission may ask for additional clarifying bits of information on other aspects of the project before issuing its decision, Green said.

Alberts said more than 30 people attended a local Act 250 hearing on Eastview held earlier this spring. More than 25 of those participants were prospective future residents of Eastview, he said.

As they wait for their Act 250 decision, Eastview developers continue to hear from seniors wanting to join the community, according to Alberts. He said Eastview has received reservation requests from more than 150 households. More than 80 percent of those requesting reservations have been Addison County residents, Alberts said.

“We’ve gotten tremendous community support,” Alberts said. “The response we have received has confirmed the need for this.”

Meanwhile, the District 9 Environmental Commission has scheduled a June 15 site visit and public hearing in Middlebury for the Lodge at Otter Creek, a retirement community that calls for 38 cottages for able-bodied seniors and another 100 units of rental housing consolidated in a main building. Sixty-five of those 100 units will be for seniors able to care for themselves; the balance will include services for those who need extra help and for those with memory loss afflictions, according to Dan Hassan, president of Hassan Management Services, which would oversee development and operation of the Lodge.

The project also includes a separate, 42-unit condominium proposal.

Located on 36 wooded acres near Middle Road, the Lodge would be modeled after the Shelburne Bay retirement community in both design and services. In addition to the dwelling units, the Lodge would include a clubhouse with a pool, “restaurant-style” dining rooms, outdoor recreation areas, a workout facility, walking paths and other common areas for activities and gatherings.

Gregg Beldock, Shelburne Bay managing partner, is one of the developers of the project.

Hassan said he had hoped to have the Lodge’s Act 250 application in earlier. It has taken a while, however, to assemble a study on the Middle Road property’s status as a potential habitat for the Indiana bat. It’s a creature that has enjoyed special protections.

“I gather that (Middle Road) area has been identified in the past… as having all the right ingredients for the bats to be breeding in some of those woodland areas,” Hassan said. “In the end, we may have to do some sort of mitigation.”

Developers of Eastview and the Lodge both hope to break ground on their respective projects later this year, with occupancy in 2007.

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