Some South Fayette residents are concerned that instead of the tranquil treeline they currently enjoy in their backyards at the Newbury development, the view could one day be impeded by a senior living facility.
Despite concerns from nearby homeowners, the South Fayette Township commissioners approved the conditional use application for a senior living community within Newbury Market at their Aug. 8 meeting.
The Waters Senior Living Holdings LLC has proposed a 140-unit building at the intersection of Presto Sygan Road and Newbury Highland near Topgolf.
The measure passed with one dissenting vote from Joseph Horowitz. All but a handful of the 25 in attendance left the meeting after The Waters vote.
Paul Maenner, senior developer for the corporation, presented during the public hearing and said the company is currently pursuing three projects in the Pittsburgh area, including a location in Peters Township. That site plan was approved by the township in June. The Waters most recently opened its Wexford facility in June.
The Waters Senior Living Holdings LLC must obtain a variance with regard to parking spaces to proceed with plans for a 124-unit building at Valley Brook Road and Friar Lane.
Several residents addressed the commissioners with their concerns about the facility’s entrance, traffic and landscaping. Solicitor Robert Garvin said that though the comments provided by nearby residents were good and appropriate, a conditional use application would not address those issues. They instead would deal with the building’s site plan, which could take three to six months, Garvin said. Residents would again have an opportunity to voice their concerns, both with the planning commission and board of commissioners.
Eric Newhouse, Newbury project manager, said at the start of the development it was unclear what the parcel in question would be used for. It was part of the original Newbury subdivision.
“We now have determined a senior living facility would be an ideal use for that parcel,” Newhouse said.
The project will require an update to the previous traffic impact study to move forward to provide a more detailed analysis.
The Waters is a Minneapolis-based company with 10 properties in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Maenner said the aim is to provide innovative and modern living spaces for those aging out of their single-family homes. The Newbury facility would have about 110 independent senior living units, with a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments with private bathrooms, full kitchens and laundry. About 30 would be assisted living or memory care apartments. It would cost about $30 million to $34 million to build and create 30 to 40 full-time jobs.
“Our experience has been we’re a positive addition to a community,” Maenner said.
Maenner said that their properties can help keep seniors closer to their loved ones, as well as increase the tax base without raising school enrollment. Amenities include a restaurant, cafe, salon, underground parking and a library. Maenner emphasized the senior living apartments would be different than a nursing home, and The Waters liked Newbury for its walkability.
Current Newbury residents were interested in how the building could impact their commutes, the landscaping and the potential traffic noise the seniors could hear at the proposed location.
Josh Jacobs lives in Newbury and took issue with the proposed location, “directly across from Topgolf, which is, in essence, a huge bar with an outdoor stage that has live bands playing ‘Freebird’ at all hours of the night, and they’re going to stick Grandma right across the street.”
“Instead of one of the beautiful, built-to-suit turn-key land opportunities available to them, they choose the cheapest land, least amount of tax exposure ... they choose a piece of land from a vulnerable developer under a lot of pressure to fix a 15-year-long eyesore across the street,” Jacobs added. “They desperately need a white knight. Unfortunately, this white knight rides a motorized scooter and drinks Metamucil. I just don’t think it’s a good fit. I think it’s a horrible place to put this development.”
Bill Price, president of the Newbury Homeowners Association, said there was a lot of confusion that surrounded the development, but hoped if the plan moved forward, The Waters would be willing to work with them on some of their issues.
The commissioners addressed some of the concerns but said there was a balance between bringing development to the township and making people happy.
The regular township meeting commenced about an hour late after a 30-minute executive session for personnel matters and two public hearings. There was lengthy public comment on both The Waters facility and traffic concerns near Fairview Park.
Also approved during the meeting was the final land development plan and conditional use application for a turnpike maintenance facility for the Southern Beltway highway. The proposed complex will have space for offices, vehicle maintenance and storage and salt storage.