How Personal Experiences Led Phoenix Council To Approve Senior Housing

Published: Monday, February 22, 2021 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021 - 8:42am

Some north Phoenix residents feel betrayed after a developer changed plans for an assisted living center and received the city council’s unanimous approval. 

During a February council meeting, Norman Neville, president of the Lone Mountain Community Association, was clear with city leaders.

“We are not opposed to having a senior living facility in our small rural community,” he said. “In fact, many of us realize that we may soon need this type of care ourselves and it would be very convenient to have it so close.”

The problem, Neville said, is the size of the facility to be built on the northeast corner of 43rd Street and Lone Mountain Road. Originally pitched as a 27,421-square-foot building that would cover 14.9% of the lot, the developer now wants a building that’s nearly 74,000 square feet that would cover 40% of the lot area.

“Simply put, we feel betrayed by the landowners and that they are now grossly violating the intent of the original proposal,” Neville said.

In 2014, many homeowners protested the request to change the zoning to allow an assisted living center. Neville said neighbors eventually received a verbal agreement from the landowner’s representative that no attempt would ever be made to increase the size of the building presented at that time if residents dropped their opposition to the zoning change request.

“We did just that,” Neville said. “Further, we now feel that the original proposal from 2014 was nothing more than an attempt by the landowners to silence the overwhelming homeowners opposition to the zoning change  … and that the intention all along was that once the zoning was approved they would go through the modification process provided by the city and build a very large 100-bed facility anyway.”

Other residents raised the issue of facing increased traffic. That led Councilwoman Thelda Williams to say: “I had my parents in a home similar to this and I will tell you, you do not need to worry about the traffic. Unfortunately, very few people ever go and visit them.”

Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who also had parents in a center, invited senior housing developers to his district. 

“I will help you find a location, I will help you do it, I will help you through the zoning process if necessary, I will do what I need to do because I’ve lived it, I understand it,” he said.

Councilman Jim Waring recently served as the primary caregiver for an aging family member.

“I learned a lot in those five years, you know, hung in there as long as I could but I will just say this: there is an extreme shortage of beds. We are not just talking about it for this case, this is something that’s come up years ago,” he said.

Waring represents the district where the assisted living center will be built. He told the developer’s representative that he expects them to work with neighbors to address their lighting and traffic concerns.

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