A 91-Bed Assisted Living/Memory Care Facility Planned for Route 206/518 Corner in Skillman
By Barbara A. Preston | Posted April 11, 2023
The Montgomery Planning Board heard plans at its March 27 meeting for a 91-bed, two-story assisted living and memory care facility to be built near the 206/518 intersection in Skillman.
The applicant, Braemar Partners LLC of Marietta, Georgia, asked the planning board on March 27 for preliminary and final major site plan and bulk variances to build the facility on a 4.4-acre property at Hartwick and Village drives. Neighbors who live in the new homes that surround the property attended the three-hour meeting. Their concerns included: Not enough parking spots — only 42 spaces are proposed, which they said did not seem like enough for employees and visitors.
Increased traffic, pedestrian safety, and ambulance sirens at all hours of the day and night were also vocalized by neighbors.
Above: An architect's rendering of Braemar Partners' assisted living development in Basking Ridge. Below: A sketch of the facility planned for Montgomery Township.
Cliff Stanfield, the principal owner of Braemar Partners, addressed the Montgomery Planning Board. He noted that the ambulance service would be private through a third party and would not use sirens.
"We have developed senior living housing across the country," he said. "We are heavily involved in New Jersey, and we currently have one under construction in Basking Ridge. We pride ourselves on the architecture. We don't start with cookie-cutter designs. Everything is well appointed."
The facility would be run by The Arbor Company, a national third-party senior living company that operates more than 40 successful senior living communities across 11 states, each with various senior living options. The newest facility, Arbor Terrace Basking Ridge, offers assisted living studios starting at $7,100 a month; memory care studios starting at $9,400 a month; and something called "bridges neighborhood" studios, starting at $8,900 a month. The costs include meals, utilities, property taxes, maintenance, lawn care, and more.
The Arbor Terrace Montgomery Township would be 67,000 square feet with 80 units, and 91 beds. "It would be a wonderful asset, I believe, in this location," Stanfield said.
Francine Pfeffer, who lives within walking distance to the proposed assisted living facility, spoke about traffic and parking.
"When I moved to Hillside, I loved the idea of having an assisted living facility nearby because my mother is now 88 and I would be able to visit her there," she said. "But, now I am very concerned about placing a business in a 100 percent residential area."
"A business with trucks, box trucks, will be delivering food. You are going to have EMS coming all the time because this is a senior facility. They will be coming with lights and sirens. And, the parking lot only has 42 spaces. I want to know how many people will be working in the facility on a Sunday morning when all the employees will be there. Suppose you have 60 visitors who will be parking on Mystic, which is where I live, which only has single-side parking "
"I'm sure someone did a traffic study, but whoever did that is not living in reality," she said. She noted that people in wheelchairs, school children and no parking will be a problem. She asked for another traffic study.
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Montgomery EMS President Siddharth Saran spoke to the board about his concern regarding adequate ambulance coverage. Montgomery EMS is not designed to provide non-emergency services to health-licensed facilities.
"Montgomery EMS is an all-volunteer, 100-percent-donation-funded organization," he said. "It is completely tapped out. It is designed to provide services to the residents of Montgomery. It is not quite designed to be part of a business plan of an entity like this.” He requested the board to examine details such as response times of the private ambulance contract that Braemar Partners mentioned and also to examine whether the contract is working as intended at existing Braemar Partner health-licensed facilities.
The developer responded that the information on the private ambulance company would be provided to the board, and shared with Montgomery EMS.
A third speaker, Srinivasan Sriram, who also lives within walking distance to the proposed assisted living facility, tried to submit a letter to the board. She was told she could not submit the letter to the board, and that the people who signed the letter would need to attend the meeting to testify. The letter was not shared with The Montgomery News.
Sriram read the letter aloud, "We believe this assisted living facility would have a negative impact on our community." She cited traffic and pedestrian safety.
"This area has developed in the last few years," she added. "It's now bursting with housing and tons of children are walking around the neighborhoods."
In the past few years, the Route 518/206 section of Skillman has added five new communities, a hundred-plus affordable units, 107 townhomes, 89 single family houses, and condominiums are coming to the area, and apartments beyond the Montgomery Cinema. "We are destroying the character of our township," she said.
The area has hosted many new residential and commercial developments recently — with approvals for new structures (The Village Walk and Montgomery Promenade) in the pipeline.
The new Village Walk at Montgomery is underway at 1330-1340 Route 206 near the Route 518 intersection. Dubbed "Downtown Montgomery," the mixed-use center is being developed by Pugliese Properties, which also owns the adjacent Village Shoppes (Wells Fargo Bank, Mooyah, Princeton Pediatrics, and more.) It will have 52 residential apartments (including 11 affordable units) on the second and third floors, with commercial / retail space on the first floor.
Liz Palius of the Montgomery Landmarks Commission, submitted a letter citing that Landmarks Commission is concerned about the assisted living facility's stormwater plan. It "will further threaten our historic structures, which we’ve built near our brooks and rivers. Five historic houses plus out buildings have already been destroyed by a previous major storm. These are homes near the Bedens Brook built well before the American Revolution and were fully inhabitable until “Ida” several years ago. if we do not contain all stormwater runoff on site we will loose whatever of our history remains as we move further from a farming community to a residential one, because All runoff in the township either drains into the Millstone directly or into Bedens Brook, which drains into the Millstone River, both already oversubscribe and unable to handle additional runoff."
Montgomery Promenade has planning board approval to build a Whole Foods supermarket, 34 single family homes, several restaurants, retail stores, and a daycare facility on the 53.5-acre field next to Princeton Airport — with entrances on Routes 206 and 518 in Skillman. Construction of phase one, which includes the supermarket, is expected by the summer of 2024.
The hearing will resume on May 8 so that public comments may continue.