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Retirement communities awarded Act 250 permits

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By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — The District 9 Environmental Commission has awarded Act 250 permits to two separate retirement communities that together will bring almost 300 units of elderly housing to the Middlebury area within the next year and a half.

Environmental commission officials confirmed on Thursday that they had issued permits:

• On Oct. 6 to Eastview at Middlebury, a 101-unit development to be built on 30 acres south of the Porter Medical Center campus off South Street.

• On Oct. 16, to the Lodge at Otter Creek, which will feature 180 units of senior housing on 36 acres off Middle Road.

State statutes allow for appeals of Act 250 permits within 30 days of when they are issued. Only those who have been accorded “party status” during the review period are allowed to file appeals.

The Middlebury retirement community proposals had taken an almost parallel path through the state and local permitting processes.

“On behalf of Eastview, we are obviously pleased to finally have the Act 250 permit,” said Susan Ritter, chairwoman of the Eastview at Middlebury board of directors. “There are over 200 people waiting to get into the Eastview community, and an overwhelming number of those people are local. We feel that the community’s need for this project is unprecedented, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to our priority list members to see this project to completion as soon as possible.”

Eastview principal Rob Alberts anticipates a 15-month construction period, to begin during the summer of 2007.

Once finished, Eastview will feature 30 one-story cottages to be occupied by able-bodied seniors, and a main “inn” building that will feature 37 independent living apartments for seniors; 18 assisted living apartments for elderly residents who may require help with their day-to-day activities; and 16 “memory loss” units for elderly who suffer from such maladies as Alzheimer’s Disease.

“We’re anxious to get started,” said Alberts, who added that 160 households, representing approximately 220 individuals, had paid $1,000 deposits to get on the priority list for Eastview’s homes.

Eastview developers have been touting their project’s proximity to, and endorsement by, Porter Medical Center as a chief selling point to prospective residents. Middlebury College owns the 40-acre parcel on which Eastview will be located. Plans call for Middlebury College to lease the 40 acres to Porter, which would in turn sublease the property to Eastview in a deal that would net Porter roughly $200,000 annually. Porter officials have said the Eastview sublease revenues would be used to soften the Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement shortfalls it is sustaining at Helen Porter Health Care nursing home.

“Porter Medical Center was pleased to learn that the Eastview project has received its Act 250 permit and looks forward to continuing to work with them on a project which clearly will benefit our community and support the mission of our organization,” said PMC President James L. Daily. “This project is overdue and clearly needed and desired by our community as demonstrated by the incredible response to the opportunity to place deposits on the Eastview units by well over 150 current residents of Addison County.”

Meanwhile, developers of the Lodge at Otter Creek are also pleased their project has received an official go-ahead from the state. The Lodge was part of a joint Act 250 application with Middle Road Ventures, which has proposed a 43-lot subdivision in the same neighborhood.

“We are fueling up the tanks, and will be moving dirt this fall,” said Dan Hassan, president of Hassan Management Services (HMS), which is spearheading the Lodge at Otter Creek.

HMS currently manages several other senior housing projects in New England, including Shelburne Bay Senior Living Community in Vermont and Summercrest in Newport, N.H. The company has been instrumental in developing five other elderly housing communities in New Hampshire and Vermont since 2000.

Slated for 36 acres off Middle Road, the project will feature:

• A main “lodge” building that will house 100 apartments, of which 61 will be for able-bodied seniors; 23 for those needing residential care or assisted living; and 16 for elderly with memory loss illnesses.

• Thirty-eight cottages.

• Forty-two townhouse-style dwellings. Each townhouse ill contain three dwellings, according to Hassan.

Hassan is expecting around 20 months of construction, which would lead to the project being completed during the summer of 2008.

Response for the Lodge has been good, according to Hassan. Around 36 prospective residents have signed on, in advance of any major marketing efforts by developers.

“We are very pleased with the response,” said Hassan, “With 20 months of lead time, we expect a considerable pipeline of folks to move in.”

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