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Commission OK’s senior care home

Residents shares concerns of parking, traffic speed
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn is slated to have a new senior care home in the near future. The Auburn Planning Commission Tuesday unanimously approved the design and a tree permit for the Autumn Gardens Residential Care Facility for the Elderly to be constructed at 185 Kenmass Ave. Commissioner Fred Vitas had to recuse himself from the discussion and vote due to a conflict of interest. Two Auburnites voiced some concerns about the project during the meeting. The facility is scheduled to be a 14-bed, approximately 5,364-square-foot care home for non-ambulatory seniors age 60 and older. The 16,000-square-foot lot is planned to be enlarged to 22,000 square feet when it is merged with a vacant city right-of-way. The facility fits into the multiple-family zoning that exists in that area of the Pine Street, Kenmass Avenue neighborhood, according to Lance Lowe, associate planner for the city of Auburn. Commissioner Matt Spokely asked Lowe if the Planning Department had received any feedback about the project from neighbors. Lowe said he received one phone message Tuesday from a woman who lives on Kenmass stating she was in favor of the project but couldn’t attend the commission’s meeting. Commissioner Alan Young asked if Auburn Fire Chief Mark D’Ambrogi was comfortable with the evacuation plan for the building, which has front and back doors. Will Wong, director of the city’s Community Development Department, said the facility is licensed through the state, meeting state evacuation requirements, and D’Ambrogi had been involved in discussions about the project. Commissioner Lisa Worthington requested a painted loading zone curb be added as part of the new sidewalks at the front of the building to give those dropping off or picking up residents a defined place to pull over. Frank Prach, developer and owner of the project, said that would not be a problem. Prach said the facility will also have seven parking spots to cover those who work at the home or might be visiting residents. Prach said there would minimally be two staff on duty 24 hours a day. Pine Street resident Paul Black said he had a couple of concerns with the project. “I don’t have any problem with the idea,” Black said. “I think it’s fine. My concern is with the parking. I think that needs to be dealt with. Pine Street parking is a nightmare.” Black said the Elk’s Lodge has a huge impact on on-street parking, which could be a hindrance for the facility. “The other concern would be just the knowledge of living on the street for so long, people fly around those curves,” Black said. Prach said parking for the building is not usually long-term because those picking up or dropping off residents usually do so in a quick manner, and he thought the loading zone area would help. Prach said he hoped the stop sign there would help with the speeding factor. Worthington suggested Black submit his concerns for the area to the city’s Traffic Committee. Parkside Terrace resident Paul Breckenridge said he thought Americans with Disabilities Act access should be reconsidered for the project and thought a separate curve in the sidewalk would be good for that access. Breckenridge also said he thought the project’s Spanish style was not in keeping with the aesthetics of that neighborhood. Wong said the city’s building official had reviewed the project for ADA access and found it to be acceptable. Chairman Bob Snyder said he had seen several proposals for that property and thought this project was a good one. He also said he thought the materials and design of the building, including a tile roof, were appropriate. “If I were going to build this building I would want a fireproof roof from hell that would not burn,” Snyder said. In other business, the Planning Commission: • Approved a variance for eight new parking spots and several improvements in the Holden office building parking lot at 1522 Lincoln Way near the Historic Auburn Courthouse. For now the parking spots will be privately used for the Holden office building. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com