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  • Kevin Elliott

In the Present facility to help dementia patients

Plans for a 36,000-square foot, 58-unit memory care facility at a former Montessori School property, 2101 Opdyke Road, were approved on Monday, June 24, by the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees.

In the Present will cater to patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. The plans call for razing the former school and constructing a single-story building on the property, which will include an interior courtyard with gardens, as well as other amenities designed to provide a high-end facility that focuses solely on memory, rather than a combination of assisted living options with memory care.

Dr. Sase Persaud, the applicant for the facility, and those involved in presenting the plans to the township, said there has been a proliferation of assisted living and memory care facilities in Oakland County, but there remains a demand for memory care options, particularly stand-alone operations.

The facility will be located adjacent to Bloomfield Township's Fox Hill No. 3 and 5 subdivisions, which are both zoned for single and multi-family residential uses. A memory care facility is a permitted use, but required a special accommodation approval from the board of trustees.

Bloomfield Township Director of Planning, Building and Ordinance Patti Voelker said the township adopted the special accommodations use ordinance in response to the Federal Fair Housing Act. Specifically, she said, townships are mandated to make "reasonable accommodation" for a particular user with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits their life activities by providing equal housing opportunities. The ordinance and federal act is intended to provide an exclusive benefit and occupancy of a particular class of users not otherwise accommodated elsewhere in the township.

While there are assisted living facilities in the township, there are no such stand-alone facilities specializing solely in memory care, Voelker said.

The site plan was approved by the Bloomfield Township Planning Commission in May.

Plans call for a 36,033 square-foot building with a maximum of 58 units, which include two two-bedroom units. The average studio unit is expected to be about 375 square feet, with one bedrooms at 405 square feet, and deluxe and two-bedroom units at 528 square feet.

The facility will include dining areas, resident services, building maintenance facilities and 21,450 square feet of interior courtyard. The overall height of the building will be 22 feet.

Because the interior courtyard pushes the perimeter of the building closer to the edge of the 3.38-acre site, some neighboring residents voiced concern over the project.

"When this is built, our property value will significantly drop," one neighbor said. "I would hear coming and going and exhaust, as it's right by my condo. My property value and quality of life would drop."

The resident said the architecture renderings give an illusion that the neighboring homes aren't as near to the site as they really are, a point that Bloomfield Township Clerk Jan Roncelli also mentioned.

Another resident said he believes the activity at the site would be more akin to a small hospital or rehab center, with 24/7 comings and goings for occupants. Others had concern about parking, fencing and screening.

Township Supervisor Leo Savoie said the project is required to have 23 parking spots, and the plans call for 36. Further, he said the plans were approved by the township's fire marshal, and that the township would require higher fencing and trees to provide a barrier.

Savoie said he didn't believe property values would be lowered, and that the site has been undeveloped and in a state of disrepair for at least a decade.

Trustee Neil Barnett agreed. "They seem committed to being good neighbors," he said.

The board approved the site plans and special accommodation request, 6-0, with trustee Dani Walsh absent.

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