P&Z to discuss Wesley Heights expansion plan at July 11 meeting

United Methodist Homes are planning to enlarge the Wesley Heights assisted living facility located at 580 Long Hill Ave.

The nonprofit entity wants to build two single-story additions on the existing building to create 10,782 square feet of new space for 20 more living units.

The northeast addition to the Wesley Heights structure would be near the Asbury Ridge condominiums, which are privately owned and abut much of UMH's Wesley Village campus.

The 46.4-acre Wesley Village campus includes Wesley Heights, Crosby Commons senior living complex, the Bishop Wicke Health Center for rehabilitation and skilled nursing, a memory care facility, and residential cottages.

UMH also plans to repave Wesley Heights Road, create "town greens" around the campus, and implement an overall "beautification plan [to] improve the aesthetic appearance" of the site, said David Lawlor, UMH president and CEO.

Lawlor told the Planning and Zoning Commission that UMH representatives went door-to-door to speak to Asbury Ridge residents about the Wesley Heights additions and overall beautification plans. He said some concerns were expressed, but most focused on the possible expansion of Crosby Commons, which isn't being considered at this time.

UMH also held a June 1 informational meeting to explain the plans to Asbury Ridge residents, attended by about two dozen condo residents. "They were thrilled with it," said Lawlor, noting one resident initially expressed opposition.

According to material from that meeting, the beautification plan will include upgrades to roofs, siding, roads, sidewalks and landscaping.

James Swift, an engineer working on the UMH project, said the additions to the Wesley Heights building and the beautification enhancements are related endeavors. "We can't treat this as two different projects," Swift said.

The new Wesley Heights units would be all studios or one bedroom. Seven parking spaces would be added. Assisting living facility residents generally don't require much parking because many don't own vehicles.

The P&Z plans to hold a July 11 public hearing on the proposal.

UMH will mail letters to Asbury Heights residents informing them of the upcoming hearing.

P&Z Chairman Ruth Parkins said the July 11 meeting will enable nearby residents to express any concerns they have about the project.

"I think it's a good proposal," said P&Z member Anthony Pogoda, stressing the importance of notifying Asbury Ridge residents about the zoning hearing on the application.

Wesley Village is part of a Planned Development District approved by the P&Z in 1997.