[Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected to show that the site in question is in the half-acre zone, not the two-acre zone as originally reported. The date of the P&Z hearing also has been corrected to Nov. 19, not Nov. 20.]
The proposed senior housing complex on Oenoke Ridge is inconsistent with New Canaan’s regulations and violates some precepts of the town’s guiding document with respect to planning, according to representatives of one neighboring organization. Waveny LifeCare Network’s application for a 70-unit residential retirement building also requires approval of changes to the New Canaan Zoning Regulation that amount to “spot zoning,” attorney Steve Finn, representing St.
Town officials on Tuesday night called for those proposing a new residential retirement building on Oenoke Ridge Road to include details in making their formal application later this summer in areas such as building materials, colors, elevations, lighting, noise-generators, sustainability and renderings such as a 3-D computerized model that will provide a sense of scale. Members of the Planning & Zoning Commission during their regular meeting also asked representatives for Waveny LifeCare Network to provide details on landscaping materials and retaining walls. Commissioner John Kriz said he was concerned that “The Oenoke”—a 70-unit building of one- and two-bedroom apartments that residents would buy into as part of New Canaan’s “Continuing Care Retirement Community”—would loom over its neighbors and “cast a shadow,” and asked that Waveny “be sensitive” to the historic nature of the abutting New Canaan Historical Society property as well as the “well-attended” St. Mark’s Church on the northern side. Kriz asked that the architects use fieldstone “as opposed to something else,” for example, and avoid using aluminum siding.
A local nonprofit organization is seeking to expand housing options for seniors with a 70-unit, three-story residential retirement building on Oenoke Ridge Road that includes access to a range of healthcare services. The one- and two-bedroom building, to be called ‘Oenoke Ridge,’ would be located in an area where Waveny LifeCare Network already owns property, between the New Canaan Historical Society and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church campuses, according to the organization’s president and CEO, Russell Barksdale Jr. Waveny has a .88-acre property at 65 Oenoke Ridge Road, owned by the Historical Society, under contract pending approval for its project by the Planning & Zoning Commission, Barksdale said. The 140,000-square-foot Oenoke Ridge would operate under a “buy-in” model as a new, higher-end piece of New Canaan’s “Continuing Care Retirement Community” or ‘CCRC.’ Many seniors who want to remain in New Canaan no longer want to or able to care for large houses and properties, yet The Inn independent living complex isn’t right for them and while they want access to medical care, they’re far too active for the skilled nursing facility on Farm Road, Barksdale said.
“It is giving them a beautiful condo that is spacious and allows them to truly age in place and have services provided to them as their needs change,” Barksdale told NewCanaanite.com in an interview. At Oenoke Ridge, residents would pay a lump sum of $750,000 or $850,000, depending on whether they’re seeking a one- or two-bedroom unit, in addition to an all-inclusive monthly fee of $4,500.
Russ Barksdale, president and CEO of Waveny LifeCare Network, received notification this week about $8,5000 in annual sewer usage fees that the nonprofit organization would be expected to pay for the fiscal year starting July 1. A proposal from Town Hall that’s designed to more fairly distribute sewer-related costs among residential and commercial property owners, the fee ultimately would see both for-profit and nonprofit businesses—including churches, charitable organizations and municipal buildings—taxed for water usage for the first time.
Barksdale in addressing the Board of Finance on Tuesday night during a public hearing on the proposal said he found that his organization, which includes both the Waveny Care Center on Farm Road and The Inn on Oenoke Ridge, would be “hit more than any other nonprofit in our area, sizably more than any other nonprofit.”
“I went to then think of the pebble effect, the pebble effect that it would have for that usage fee to be placed on us as a nonprofit, to be placed upon the other churches and other nonprofits that enrich the culture of this great community that we have in New Canaan,” Barksdale said during the well-attended hearing, held at Town Hall.
Noting that Waveny has provided some $10 million in charity care in the past two years in ways that saves government spending, Barksdale added, “We have a very fragile, very large group of seniors that come to us who cannot afford or find themselves at the end of being able to afford the highest level of care that we provide. And so I applaud our charity care to provide that. Who do we bill that usage fee to?”
Medicare and Medicaid are not options, he said, and there’s “really no place to pass that fee on to others to be able to incorporate, so we have to as a nonprofit be able to absorb that expense.”
“We would just ask that, similarly to the $15 minimum wage, that you give us an opportunity and all the nonprofits that are here the opportunity to build it within our budget. Right?
A nonprofit organization that has served New Canaan for decades is commissioning a study to determine demand for senior housing in town, officials say. Due to conclude within about one month, the study forms part of a larger effort to help meet the need for diverse senior housing in New Canaan, according to Russell Barksdale, Jr., president and CEO of Waveny LifeCare Network. Members of the organization—which includes Waveny Care Center, The Village and The Inn, as well as outpatient and day programs—already have presented to residential real estate brokers to get feedback on one- and two-bedroom apartment styles and layouts that would help a senior “move in and age in place and hopefully never move again,” Barksdale said.
Waveny will continue to solicit feedback from local experts, residents and officials as it looks closely at three parcels of land in New Canaan that may be right for senior housing development, he said, including neighbors of those properties.
“There may be others look at and consider,” Barksdale said.
“The expectation is we will go, before choosing, to meet with the town and go over and meet with neighbors to make sure they can support what we are thinking about doing. So this is not something where we will design it and lay it out and close on the land and then go to [Planning & Zoning] to push it through. This is something where we are going to be inclusive of all the community and give everyone an opportunity to look at it, talk about it, neighbors, look at plans and drawings and make sure before go to P&Z to have input and support to do what we want to do and what we believe is the need for the area.”
Asked what is the range in the number of units Waveny is thinking about creating, Barksdale said the completed market plan and demand study will help determine that figure.