Shenango on the Green is planning to develop up to 16 single-story “patio homes” on five acres off Route 956.
But first the plan must get the nod of New Wilmington planning and zoning experts.
Caroline DeAugustine, executive director of Shenango on the Green in New Wilmington, and Bobbi Jo Haden, vice president of retirement services, this week told New Wilmington borough council members the Shenango Home plans to partner with Gary Renaud and W-N Development LLC of Erie, to create “patio houses,” as an independent living option for its clients.
They plan to locate the complex at the site of the former Sigma Nu Fraternity, known as “Snake House,” at 735 S. Market St. The fraternity house was demolished in April 2015, soon after Renaud purchased the property.
Borough officials noted that for the development to go through, it will need conditional use approval or a text amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow the development of condominiums in an A-Residential, low density, single-family home area, or change the ordinance.
During the meeting, solicitor Frank Verterano told council they are getting ahead of themselves by discussing the project before developers seek permits or go before the planning commission or to the zoning officer, Jim Farris.
“Right now, what is before you?” he asked. “Have we been asked to rezone? When will residents be allowed to comment?”
Verterano said the developers first must seek a zoning permit. If Farris refuses to issue one, they can appeal to the zoning board or ultimately to council change the zoning map.
He also said the planning commission study the request and ordinance and suggested council talk with consultant Tom Graney, who was instrumental in adopting the zoning ordinance.
Following the council meeting, DeAugustine said talks on the project have been on-going for about two years.
She said each one-story, stand-alone structure will have 1,300-square-feet of open plan living space, two bedrooms, two baths and be available to residents age 55 and older. Optional services available to residents would include housekeeping and a meal plan.
DeAugustine said it has not yet been determined what the cost would be to live there.
“We are a continuing care retirement community,” she explained. As part of Presbyterian Life SeniorCare Network Community, Shenango on the Green offers 48 independent living apartments housing 63 residents, as well as personal care, memory care and rehab and skilled nursing care. “
She said the “average age” of the independent living units is 83.
“Through discussions, we became aware that younger people could be attracted to our community and we determined the best option is to offer these patio homes.”
She said she and Haden visited some of Renaud’s properties in Erie and agreed this option could work for them.
The houses will be built in phases, beginning with three or four in the initial phase. More would built as existing buildings are sold.
“We had hoped to start building this fall, but we’re told that we have to go before planning and zoning and that could take three months. If all goes well, we might start in Spring 2019,” she said.
“Our next stop is to go before the zoning board,” she said. “We’re seeking a text amendment to the zoning ordinance that will allow a conditional use change to build condominiums.”