Neighbors balk at Yarmouth nursing home growth plan

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YARMOUTH — The Planning Board tabled discussion of a final site plan for the expansion of a Main Street nursing home after neighbors expressed concerns about the size, landscaping and safety of the proposal.

Coastal Manor at 20 West Main St. consists of two, two-story buildings joined by a central connector in the town’s Medium Density Residential district. It has 14 parking spaces on the east side of the building and 10 additional spaces at the rear, accessible by a service drive extending from Patty Lane.

The expansion and renovation would move 39 nursing care beds to a proposed two-story, 21,000-square-foot addition. The existing structure would be renovated to accommodate 25 assisted living beds, with up to 40 parking spots proposed to support the development.

A partial basement would be included in the new building and include a commercial kitchen, laundry, hygiene, and utility room, employee break room, and a general facility storage area.

According to the town’s zoning ordinance, the purpose of MDR zones is to provide a “wholesome” living environment readily accessible to the town’s center. Permitted uses in the district include family dwellings, churches, and municipal buildings. Coastal Manor is classified as a hospital, which is a special exception in the zone.

Landscape architect Thomas Emery stated in Coastal Manor’s application that the “exterior of the proposed (expansion) is being designed to fit into the context of Yarmouth’s West Main Street architecture.”

However, residents who live near the longterm care facility submitted 27 pages of opposing comments to the Planning Board prior to a meeting on Dec. 13.

Linda Grant, president of the Yarmouth Village Improvement Society, said the scale of the building is out of character with the neighborhood.

Jill Piker, of Church Street, said she left a Sept. 27 Planning Board meeting feeling confident those working on the expansion had understood residents’ concerns and would “rework their expansion plan and reduce the scale and size.”

“The Final Site Plan submitted not only failed to meet this request, (but) the structure’s square footage is actually larger,” Piker wrote. “I feel strongly that this special exception should be denied.”

On Wednesday, Piker said she was “overwhelmed and disappointed” to see the proposal progress. She went on to say the MDR zone was meant for homes and the proposed expansion wouldn’t even meet the requirements of a commercial district. 

Finally, Piker added that Coastal Manor’s application proposed using a 5-foot buffer between their facility and abutting property – the minimum distance allowed in an MDR zone. 

One of Piker’s neighbors, Paul Engel, shared concerns regarding the size of the expansion and its close proximity to abutters’ homes.

He said his home is a “stone’s toss” away from Coastal Manor. Directly to the right of his home, Engel said he’ll face a 28-foot back wall at the new facility if plans go through. 

Engel and his neighbors also spoke to concerns regarding the number of trees that would need to be removed for the proposed expansion.

According to the application, the new addition would require the removal of four deciduous trees along West Main Street, approximately nine trees along Hillside Street, and several smaller trees near the existing driveway.

The proposed planting concept includes new “street trees” along West Main Street and lower shrub and perennial plantings combined with a 2-foot stone wall to “complement the existing streetscape in front of Coastal Manor.”

Mark Lickus, who lives at the corner of Church Street and Baker Street, said the proposal would result in increased traffic, calling it a public safety concern and noting that pedestrians – specifically children – frequently walk through the neighborhood. 

Yasmin and Brit Vitalus live on South Street and own the building at 21 Church St., which abuts the back of Coastal Manor. In a letter, Yasmin Vitalus wrote that they’ve received several noise complaints from their tenants about trucks unloading dumpsters and backing out of Coastal Manor’s lot between 4:30 and 5 a.m. 

“While we generally support the development project, we respectfully ask the designers and architects to continue to consider the noise ramifications,” Vitalus wrote. “We will have difficulty retaining tenants if the noise issues are not addressed or considered in the expansion.”

Board Chairman Kevin O’Rourke on Wednesday said issues raised at September’s Planning Board meeting continue to be concerns of the general public, as well as the board. 

Emery said the town’s zoning ordinance was what Harriman used for direction while designing the project and that all of its requirements were met. 

“I need to have more guidance in terms of how I should proceed or re-interpret the ordinance,” Emery said, to which planning board member Tom Federle replied that the board is responsible for considering more than zoning. 

“We, as a matter of fact, must find that the proposed use would be compatible with existing uses in the neighborhood,” Federle said. “The burden is on you to get us to make that finding of fact … I don’t think you’ve met your burden of demonstrating that.”  

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Coastal Manor’s proposal for a two-story, 21,000-square-foot addition at 20 West Main St. in Yarmouth was met with resistance from neighbors at a Dec. 13 planning board meeting. 

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  • Erin Frenan

    I call these types of NIMBY’s BANANA’s = Build Absolutely Nothing Near Anything

  • Jane Gildart

    The noise problem raised by Mrs. Vitalus is instructive for all who embrace the popular concept of “vibrant, mixed-use” town centers. If you have dwellings, you have people sleeping at 4 or 5 or 6 a.m. (or 10 or 11 p.m.) when some activity related to nearby commercial properties is likely to be heard.
    Besides noise, someone who lives next to an enterprise in a mixed-use town center can expect that the view from the living room or kitchen or bedroom is going to be a blank wall, or even a dumpster; all-night security or safety lighting is going to have an effect as well.
    Maybe I’m stating the obvious, but if Yarmouth truly embraces the concept of a mixed-use town center, then the boards who regulate it must be mindful of such drawbacks and work to minimize them. Otherwise, the concept is untenable and we’ll continue to lose dwellings in our village center.