Brightview Senior Living proposed for Columbia

The County Zoning Board reviewed early plans for a proposed senior living community to be built in Columbia at its final meeting of the summer on Wednesday night.

Developers for Brightview Senior Living presented early drawings and site maps to the board during an informal review session to allow the board to view the plans and learn more about the project. The board consists of the county council members serving in a quasi-judicial manner.

Plans for the center, which would be located adjacent to Martin Road Park near Route 29, include 90 independent-living and 80 assisted-living apartments, Andrew Teeters, vice president of development for The Shelter Group, the project's developer, said during the meeting. Brightview already has 12 other senior living communities in Maryland, including one in Catonsville.

Teeter said this portion of Columbia is well suited for a Brightview because the area has a sizeable senior citizen population.

"When we look at this market area, which is typically a five- to seven-mile radius around the particular property, in this market what we found is the senior population is double what we see in a typical Brightview market," he said.

Shelter's plans for the area also include restoring the dilapidated Athol Manor House, a historic eighteenth 18th-century house and former rectory located near the site. The current proposal would turn the house into a dedicated space for use by nonprofit arts groups, and Teeter said Shelter has begun talks with the Howard County Arts Council about the idea.

The group has already presented ideas for the project to different groups and county departments including Department of Planning and Zoning, Department of Public Works, Department of Recreation and Parks, the Hickory Ridge Village Board, Preservation Howard County and individual neighbors in the area.

Feedback led to some technical changes before the current plan was shown to the board, Teeter said during the meeting.

Board members expressed positive feedback overall regarding the project. Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty, whose district would house the site, encouraged the developers to consider how the renovated Athol Manor House would then be funded once it was operational, and suggested they explore the possibility of creating an endowment to maintain the property in the future.

"I know that at this point in time it's boarded up, I know that there's been real concern in the community about vandalism, so there's real concern in the community about it," Sigaty said about the house. "You need to make sure that this becomes an asset."

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