Mill Hill assisted-living plan sparks neighborhood opposition
Updated 5:23 am, Friday, April 29, 2016
FAIRFIELD — Neighbors voiced questions and concerns about an assisted-living center proposed on Mill Hill Terrace at a Town Plan and Zoning Commission hearing Tuesday.
While the main entrance to the center would be on Mill Hill Terrace, an emergency entrance would be located off Pease Avenue. An assisted-living facility is a permitted use in a residential neighborhood, if a special exception permit is granted.
“It’s not blending into the community,” said Lynn Moore, who lives at the corner of Southport Woods Road and Kings Highway West. Condos in the neighborhood, she said, “are almost assisted living, based on the number of times the ambulances go there.”
Moore said she does not let her children walk to Mill Hill School because of heavy traffic, while Jessie Sprague, 17, said she was never able to walk to the school from her home on Pease Avenue, either.
“It’s very scary,” Sprague said. “It’s very dangerous.”
Her father, David Sprague, said he does not believe there would be adequate on-site parking when the center is completed, and questioned where construction workers will park while it is being built.
“We just feel we’re not getting enough answers back about the safety and security of the environment around us,” Sprague said.
Neighbors also pointed out that the new assisted-living center would be across the street from an existing nursing home, Fairview of Fairfield.
Acorn Lane resident David Rosenstein, who withdrew an application to be named an intervenor for the application, said, “What we’re proposing here is unprecedented for this neighborhood.”
He contended there have been more questions than answers about the proposed project, which he called a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” that does not meet the special exception requirements defined in town zoning regulations.
Rosenstein said that within a 30-minute drive of the site are 94 senior housing, nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. “This is a commercial business, a for-profit enterprise,” he said, proposed for a residential neighborhood.
Not everyone at the hearing opposed the proposal, however.
“I think it’s important to hear voices supportive of the project,” said another Acorn Lane resident, Landon Westerlund. He said his wife attended the first TPZ hearing on the application, prepared to oppose the project. However, he said, after learning more, they changed to supporting the proposal.
Westerlund said they talked to people who live near other Maplewood facilties, and found those neighbors felt they were positive for the community. And if not an assisted-living center, he said, they considered what might be built on the site instead.
This type of project, Westerlund said, will help increase the town’s tax base, while not adding to student enrollment at Mill Hill School.