Westwood moves toward zoning text change to allow senior living application to be filed for Entercom land

The Westwood Entercom property is the site for a possible senior living complex.
The Westwood Entercom property is the site for a possible senior living complex.

Westwood city councilors and planning commission members agreed Monday to entertain a zoning text change that would allow the city to at least debate the possibility of a senior living development on the Entercom property.

Currently, the city has no mechanism in its zoning ordinance to even consider a senior living proposal. CBC Real Estate Group has an option to purchase the eight-acre property across the street from the Westwood View Elementary School. But CBC can’t file plans with the city because no category for senior living exists in zoning code.

The joint work session Monday favored a zoning text change that would allow a planned district accommodating senior living. That means complete plans for any construction would need to be submitted at the time of a zoning change and that the zoning approval would be tied to the specific plan.

The zoning text change, which needs to be written and adopted, would allow CBC to submit an application, which would trigger public hearings about the use of the land. Mayor John Yé said the first interest in the property from CBC came in October of 2012. Over the next two and one-half years interest also was expressed by developers who favored commercial or residential development. However, in 2014 Entercom renewed its special use permit to continue operating the broadcasting towers on the property. Yé said more than seven developers talked to Entercom during the last few years and the city was not involved in the negotiations. In August 2014, the city first learned that CBC had a letter of intent, he said.

Council president Paul Day, who favored the text change so an application could be filed, said he had reservations about putting such a dense development in the middle of the city. He said the current plan has 140 units in a horseshoe configuration with independent living duplexes on the outside and a two or three story building in the middle for services and more aid-dependent living. No plans, though, have been filed with the city and can’t be filed until the text change is made.

Some Westwood residents attending the Monday meeting objected to the process and suggested the public should have been heard from earlier on the question of senior living. One resident objected to the added density in a single-family neighborhood and suggested a park on the site.

Yé opened the meeting by telling the group that no decision had been made about the use of the property, that the council is not pressuring the planning commission to approve a plan and that the city is not trying to keep out public input.