BZA denies variances for Willow Haven Senior Home

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The Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals Jan. 9 unanimously voted against granting any variances to allow Willow Haven Senior Home to build a 12-bed memory care facility in west Carmel.

Proposed on 1.3 acres at 13145 West Road, Willow Haven Senior Home was proposed as a home for people with light to moderate memory care needs. Willow Haven Senior Home owner James Miles said it would provide an option for families who can’t afford in-home care but don’t want to send their loved one to a large facility.

“This is a new offering that doesn’t fit neatly into the city’s current zoning code,” Miles said.

The board said little before voting against the project, but some members said it appeared to be more of a rezoning issue than one that should be handled through multiple variances.

“It’s something the city council should be overseeing and not us,” board member James Hawkins said before the vote.

Nearby residents had a lot to say. Nearly 20 people gave public comments, with almost all of them speaking against the project.

“If these residents don’t need (advanced care), basically what we’re doing is putting up a sorority or fraternity, which I don’t think this is zoned for,” said Bob Flint, who lives near the proposed site.

Richard Manasek, who moved into the area eight years ago, said he and his neighbors purchased their homes believing commercial uses would not be allowed nearby.

“It’s not a matter of not wanting care for seniors, it’s a matter of the people who bought their homes there and built it in an S1 neighborhood and not in a commercial zone,” he said. “There’s a place for everything, and it’s not in our S1 neighborhood.”

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