Plans for assisted living facility has some Palm Bay residents upset



PALM BAY, Fla. - Some Palm Bay residents want the city to stop an assisted living facility from being built in their neighborhood.

Residents said the project, which is being proposed on a 20-acre site between Eldron Boulevard and Buffing Circle, would ruin the character of their residential community.

The developer has already made some concessions, Channel 9 has learned, but they still need city approval to begin work.

On Thursday, an engineer for the project said the developer is trying to preserve the residential feel of the neighborhood, but homeowners on either side of what would be the entrance to Las Palmas said that wouldn't include an assisted living facility in their back yards.

"It needs to stay a residential community," said homeowner Dale Thompson. "It doesn't make any sense to put a commercial building slap-dab in the middle of a residential area."

Thompson has lived in his home off Ruffin Circle for 27 years. He'd resigned himself to change and a plan to build a 60-home subdivision on the acreage behind him, but, when that plan changed to a proposal for an assisted living facility, Thompson and others objected.

"(An) assisted living facility is alright, just not in a neighborhood of residents," he said.

Nearby residents said they're concerned about the additional traffic, emergency vehicles and the potential impact on their home values.

"Assisted living doesn't help our cause at all in this area," said neighbor Judy Willman. "I don't know if I'd want to continue to live here."

The engineer for Las Palmas said an assisted living facility would mean less daily traffic than the subdivision that was already approved for the site. He added the facility would also mean more tree preservation, because the site would be clear-cut for single-family homes.

The current plan also calls for an acre-and-a-half donation to the city adjacent to an existing park

"I believe people who own property have the right to build on their property, but it has to fall into the parameters of how the city has planned," said neighbor Nancy Glover.

The current plan calls for single-family homes unless the city approves an institutional use for the site.

City Council gets the final say and is expected to hear the proposal next month.