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Senior housing development wins approval


The Mount Airy Planning and Zoning Commission last night approved developer Michael Berman's preliminary subdivision plan for the first phase of the Wildwood Park senior housing development.

Mr. Berman has proposed a development of 32 units for people older than age 62, on 4 acres of a 9.78-acre site at Ridge and Park avenues.

Planning for the project dates back nearly three years, when Mr. Berman requested a special zoning exception from the town to develop the senior housing.

The Mount Airy Board of Appeals gave its initial approval to the project in April.

Mr. Berman's proposal also calls for a day care center on 2 acres of the site. A portion of the land, slightly less than half an acre, will be dedicated to the town for a public park.

Last night, Mayor Gerald Johnson urged the commission to approve Mr. Berman's preliminary site plan.

"I think we have a viable plan here which addresses two major concerns of the residents of the town -- senior housing and day care," Mr. Johnson said.

Planning commission members expressed concern that a new road within the development would be used as a shortcut by library patrons. The Mount Airy library is adjacent to the proposed development.

The commission approved the subdivision plan on the condition that Mr. Berman will delay plans to build the through road to the library until the town's senior housing committee can study the issue and make a recommendation.

At the commission's request, Mr. Berman said, he and his development team have tried to address such concerns as saving old trees on the land and minimizing storm water runoff.

He also said he wanted the commission's approval for the project last night.

"We've been working since the end of April, since we got the special exception," he said. "We have tried to mitigate the issues that would be objectionable."

The senior community is slated to be a combination of duplexes and detached housing, with prices starting at $80,000 per unit.

Mr. Berman has said he hopes to begin construction on the first 11 senior housing units in the spring.

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