More than 120 residents were on hand at a township zoning board meeting on May 4 to weigh in on the application by Texas-based Caddis Acquisition Partners LLC for a senior living facility at historic Holly Ravine Farm.
The proposal for the 23-acre farm property calls for a 175-unit facility near the intersection of Evesham and Springdale roads.
Over the course of the five-hour zoning board meeting, all but one expert was able to testify about the plan. Due to a conflict of interest, board member Marshall Spevak recused himself from a vote on the application, so the board will vote with six members.
According to a statement from Caddis – a health-care real estate company – the proposed development calls for three types of facilities: a four-story independent living facility with congregate care and supportive services that will have 85 units, a three-story memory-care facility with 24 units and a three-story assisted living facility with 66 units.
The facility would not include a skilled nursing or rehabilitation component, nor would it be considered a senior apartment building because Caddis would provide services to residents on site, such as two meals per day, laundry and housekeeping.
“We provide lots of services to our residents on site, so they don’t have to go out and get those services, so that’s what makes us very different from a senior apartment,” said Caddis representative Tami Cumings.
The company seeks four variances, a use variance to permit its facility within an R-2 residential zone that doesn’t permit senior living; a height variance that will allow a 49-foot facility in an area where the maximum height is 35 feet; a variance for four fewer parking spaces than the required 189; and a variance to have three signs rather than two.
“(The proposed three facilities are) generally considered under the municipal land-use law as being an ‘inherently beneficial use,’” said zoning board Solicitor Sandy Zeller. “What that would mean is that under the cases and municipal land-use law, they (Caddis) still have a burden of proof to sustain the positive criteria of the statute and the negative criteria of the statute.
“However, the case law does say that if it’s inherently beneficial, as this use is, that they presumptively satisfy the positive criteria.”
According to Justia – a company that provides legal resources – positive criteria refers to establishing special reasons for a variance; negative criteria requires proof that the variance can be granted without harming the public good or substantially impairing the intent and purpose of the zone plan and ordinance.
“This proposal is not for an active senior community, it is not senior housing, but rather it is for seniors who choose to live in a facility that provides independent care with supportive services,” said Richard Goldstein, a lawyer representing Caddis.
Traffic Engineer Nathan Mosley of Shropshire Associates discussed traffic studies for the proposed development and noted that its residents would likely not drive frequently because they will have provided transportation. If they do drive, it would likely not be during peak hours. The proposal calls for two driveways, one on Evesham Road and one on Springdale.
“For the overall site of a total of 175 units, we anticipate during the a.m. peak hour, it’s going to generate a total of 33 trips, so that’s a combination of in and outbound movements,” Mosley explained. “We anticipate 16 inbound movements and 17 outbound movements, for a total of 33 trips. And then in the p.m. hours, we anticipate a total of 43 trips for the overall facility.”
Mosley noted that compared to other uses within the zone, this proposal is less traffic-intensive during peak hours for both morning and afternoon conditions in the weekday and that even with a wait time to turn, cars will be waiting in the driveway rather than being on the live road.
Jeremy Noll, a professional engineer with the Cherry Hill Zoning Board, clarified that the delay time would be approximately 34 to 42 seconds per vehicles for motorists waiting to make a turn out of the site and raised concerns about the safety of making a left turn on Evesham Road with a medical office in Voorhees across the street and the traffic generated from the WaWa.
“There’s just a lot going on at that intersection, it’s a 40 mile per hour road,” Noll said. “There’s no shoulder. If someone comes out onto that road, there’s no refuge for them to hesitate or change their decision, once you commit to making that left turn out of there, you’re committing to making that left turn.”
With regards to the environmental impact, a statement by Caddis notes that the proposed facility calls for 36 trees to be removed – with 418 later brought back – and incorporates the 100-plus-year-old beech tree into its designs.
To hear more testimony and public comments on the proposed senior facility, the zoning board will hold a second special meeting next Wednesday, May 31 at 6 p.m. via Zoom.