Zoning Board To Hear Assisted Living Project Thursday

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Richfield Regency ExteriorAn assisted living developer is coming before the Verona Board of Adjustment this Thursday, July 12, to seek approval to build such a facility on the site of the Richfield Regency.

Representatives of Kensington Senior Development LLC had gone before the Verona Planning Board in January to get a zoning change to facilitate the project. But the Planning Board declined to add assisted living to the permitted uses for properties that are zoned as Town Center, as the Richfield lot now is. A variance to change the permitted use is one of the seven variances that the Board of Adjustment will now be asked to consider. 

Kensington is under contract to purchase two properties, 420 Bloomfield Avenue and 312 Claremont Avenue. The former is the site of the Richfield Regency and the latter is a parking lot just east of Cumberland that is used by the Richfield. 420 Bloomfield Avenue is one of the largest properties in Verona, occupying just under an acre of land. The parking lot on Claremont is 70 feet wide and 266 feet deep, adding close to a half acre to the mix. Both are listed in state property tax records as being owned by V & J Realty Associates LLC of Verona.

The Richfield Regency, which opened in Verona in the early 1960s, continues to operate as an event and wedding banquet hall.

Assisted living is not currently a permitted use in Verona in any location. Assisted living facilities provide housing and care to a somewhat independent elderly or disabled population, and their expansion in the last decade means that there are now more of these facilities than there are nursing homes in the U.S. Hillwood Terrace, which is often referred to as Verona’s senior housing, is actually a Section 8 property for low-income households. It does not provide trained attendants or nurses to residents as an assisted living property would.

Kensington Senior Development’s planner and lawyer told the Planning Board that they believed that assisted living is a form of residential usage, which is permitted in the Town Center zone, and they asserted that the creation of an assisted living facility at 420 Bloomfield Avenue could contribute to a walkable downtown in Verona. Since the purpose of the hearing was to explore a zoning change and not review an actual plan, Kensington did not give details on what the facility would be like, other than to say it would have under-building parking and not ground-floor retail. (Before the Richfield was built, there was a supermarket on the site.) Kensington has operated a facility in White Plains, N.Y. for eight years.

The Board of Adjustment meets in the ballroom at the Verona Community Center, beginning at 8 p.m. The meeting agenda is here. The meeting is open to the public.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].

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