RPB Zoners Approve Plans For Cypress Key Senior Housing

The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission approved architectural and landscaping plans Tuesday, Sept. 26 for the senior housing facility planned at the Cypress Key Town Centre on Southern Blvd.

“It is an attractive building,” Development Review Coordinator Kevin Erwin said. “It has multiple projections and recessions. It has varied roof heights. It has some pitched roofs, as well as some mansard roofs, with some parapets, as well as banding, color change and material change throughout the elevation.”

Special attention was given to the east elevation, which faces the residential Cypress Head neighborhood.”

“They’ve given special attention to that façade, to make sure that it has an attractive appearance, because it is a little bit higher than the adjacent residential structures,” Erwin said.

The north side of the building faces the townhome development in Cypress Key, while the south side will face Southern Blvd.

“The east and the south will be covered with buffer as well,” Erwin said. “There is landscaping within the right of way that’s fairly dense, that is part of the State Road 80 (Southern Blvd.) widening project that was installed many years back. So, that elevation will be well screened.”

Commissioner Jackie Larson was concerned about the policy for the backup generators in the facility, specifically because of the recent tragedy in Broward County where a number of seniors died at a rehabilitation center after Hurricane Irma.

Gov. Rick Scott has put an emergency rule into effect for senior housing, assisted living and nursing home facilities.

“They are required to have a generator that can function for 96 hours after a power outage, and the temperature requirements in that facility have to be 80 degrees or less in that 96-hour period of time,” Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton said. “That is just a tentative, first stopgap measure.”

Ashton said the Florida Legislature may consider multiple bills in the upcoming legislative session to update the emergency rules and provide solidarity to those that all senior facilities within the state will have to follow.

As of right now, Ashton said she believes the current proposal at Cypress Key is compliant with the emergency rules, but once new bills are passed, as early as January, they will have to adjust to the new laws.

Another area of concern brought up by Chairman Richard Becher was living situations in the 104-bed facility regarding density and persons per bed and room.

“The density is based on gross acreage, and the site is 35.23 acres overall,” Erwin said. “There was some residual density left over that they didn’t use for the town houses and the single family, and they used up the residual density for the 104 beds.”

As for living arrangements in the facility, the village zoning code is going to undergo changes that will affect the approvals made for the senior housing facility. But, as the code stands now, 104 beds equal 104 people.

Both Becher and Larson voiced concern about defining residents per bed and beds per room.

“It’s not just the number of persons per bed, but the number of beds and persons per room and the square footage of the room,” Larson said. “Many of these rooms are literally like where we lived in college if you were in a dorm. Depending on the facility, they can try and squish three or four beds in those little, tiny areas.”

Erwin confirmed that there are limits in the code for how big a room must to be to allow for two or more beds.

Becher also wanted to get clarity about married couples and their status in the senior living facility.

“If the code change goes into effect, there will be a 10 percent density bonus, so there is a possibility they’ll have 104 residents plus 10 percent to account for married couples,” Erwin said.

Until the proposed code change is in effect, the bedroom situation still has to be dealt with in the future, Ashton said.

Additional information was provided by Chris Ressler of the architectural firm Studio Plus.

“Our generator is located on the west side of the building toward the parking lot, where it will be screened in. It’s an outdoor area,” Ressler said. “Our engineers are actually digging in to the requested changes, as we are all catching up after the hurricane. But, we do have some opportunity to grow it within there if we do have to. I think it will mostly be a fuel concern.”

Although the building is not recognized as a healthcare facility, it will still be open to review under the Affordable Care Act, Ressler added.

All of the landscaping and buffers were approved during the review of the site plan, along with exterior planting around the facility. “What they’re looking for approval on is the interior courtyard, where many of the recreational amenities are provided, as well as the shaded, screened areas,” Erwin said. “It’s very hard to make out the interior landscaping at this scale, but you do have the larger ones in your packet. Village staff feels that this is a decent landscape plan for the courtyard area and around the amenities.”

Aside from what Ressler called minor areas of artificial turf, the interior courtyard will be made up of natural and real landscape.

“Your land code has several requirements for outdoor activities for assisted-living facilities, and we are providing more than a minimum requirement for code,” Ressler said.

These include bocce ball courts, putting greens, gardening areas for residents, covered picnic areas and walking paths.

“We’re providing some additional amenities beyond that, specifically for the Alzheimer’s care,” Ressler added.

Commissioner Ross Shillingford asked whether all the landscaping for the interior was code-compliant.

“With the large-scale development, there are foundation planting requirements and intermittent shade; that was part of the site plan,” Erwin said. “But they have the foundation planting around the outside of the building as well.”

Shillingford made a motion to approve the architecture and landscape plan, which was approved unanimously.

“We’ve recognized that this is a prominent corner in the village, so we’ve done everything we can… to provide both Cypress Key design guidelines, the large facility design guidelines and the assisted-living facility guidelines within your code,” Ressler said.