AUBURN -- A proposal for a $9.5 million senior housing community met with opposition at a Tuesday meeting of the city planning board from nearby residents who complained of the noise, traffic and environmental impact they believe the 110-unit facility would create.
Calamar Construction, a Wheatfield-based company that specializes in the design and construction of independent senior living communities, appeared at the planning board with drawings of the proposed development.
Jocelyn Bos, Calamar's director of senior housing development, provided the board with data from the U.S. Census and a market study conducted by the company showing that median-level income senior housing is needed in Auburn and the surrounding towns.
But a number of residents from nearby Catlin and North Lewis streets and Standart Avenue said the development was unwanted in their neighborhood.
"This complex does not fit in with our residential area," Catlin Street resident Debbie Van Dyke said. "It will change dramatically the character of our neighborhood and the nuisance this will create while being built will created unwanted noise and traffic."
Van Dyke added that the wooded area the proposed three-story building would occupy is home to a diverse array of wildlife and plant species.
Resident Tom Gabak said a group of concerned neighbors is currently trying to raise funds to purchase the vacant land in hopes that the Calamar proposal falls through to keep the land "forever green."
Calamar lead engineer Ben Gustafson said many of the residents' concerns had already been addressed by changes to the site plans.
He said the buffer zone between Catlin Street residents and a line of garages to be constructed for the building's occupants was increased from 30 feet to 100 feet, and the main entrance to the facility, previously on North Lewis Street, was amended in the drawings to connect to Standart, a move recommended by the city's planning office.
Gustafson said the purchase of the property to re-connect the driveway, however, is still in negotiations by the company.
The planning board voted unanimously to act as the lead agency for the environmental review of the site plan.
City Planner Steve Selvek explained that the vote was only the first step in the process for the development.
After circulating the plan to the involved agencies, the planning board will make a decision on the environmental review, then send the development to the zoning board of appeals for a use variance.
The planning board next meets at 6:30 p.m. on May 1.