A 9,000-square-foot adult residential care facility planned for Northlake Blvd. was approved 7-0 during a Thursday, April 22 zoning hearing before the Palm Beach County Commission.
Memory Care at The Acreage is planned as a 14-bed home for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients on 1.6 acres near Grapeview Blvd.
The Palm Beach County Zoning Commission already had voted 9-0 for approval. County staff also had recommended approval.
“I’m not entirely comfortable with this project,” District 6 County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said during the session. “But staff has given me no solid reason to oppose it. Neither did the zoning commission.”
In the end, McKinlay moved for the project to be approved.
Nearby residents expressed their concerns about the facility during an April 14 Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors workshop meeting and to McKinlay.
George Gentile, who represented the facility’s owner Moore Florida Property Investment, at both meetings assured supervisors and commissioners that Memory Care at The Acreage has every intention of being a good neighbor and respecting the rural nature of the community.
Gentile, a longtime resident of Jupiter and the founder of the Gentile, Glas, Holloway, O’Mahoney & Associates land planning firm, said the facility would be well screened from its neighbors and Northlake Blvd. He also noted that it would create no significant increase in traffic, that parking-lot-style lighting would not be used for the small employee parking area, and that fencing or some other type of barrier would be used at the front of the property to ensure that residents could not wander onto the road.
Pointing to a 21 percent increase in Alzheimer’s cases in county residents over age 65, Gentile emphasized the need for such facilities.
However, McKinlay said ITID President Betty Argue had contacted her to express concern that allowing the facility might create a “domino effect” with others wanting to establish residential care facilities along Northlake, and not just for older adults, but perhaps youth homes or addiction treatment facilities. In fact, Acreage residents expressed fear that Memory Care at The Acreage might someday be converted to such a use.
Questioned by McKinlay, Assistant County Administrator Patrick Rutter said that such a change could not be barred from the outset, but that it would be necessary for the property owners to come back to the county commission before making such a change. “This board, future boards would have the ability to weigh in,” he said.
Northlake Blvd. in that area is a residential corridor, McKinlay stressed.
“People in the area don’t want to see it become a commercial thoroughfare,” she said. “So, I do worry about the precedent this sets for the future. But I also recognize that this area of the county needs these services provided in their neighborhood, and it is sorely lacking right now… I would just ask that in the future, we proceed with caution on any larger project.”