Neighbors voice concern over Locust Lodge plans Assisted-living facility wants to add 5 residents

June 19, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Some neighbors of Locust Lodge, an assisted-living facility in Riviera Beach, fear that a proposed expansion of its operation to allow five more occupants could create problems in their neighborhood.

"This neighborhood is a quiet neighborhood," said Mardell J. Strauss, who lives near the lodge in the 8400 block of Main Ave. "There are no problems here, and we'd like to keep it that way."

Harry C. Blumenthal, the lawyer for owners Deborah and Henry L. Rocklin Jr., said the facility must expand to meet the needs of the people on its waiting list.

"They cannot accommodate [the number of requests] from the people who want to live there," he said. "And if it was something new or something different from what [neighbors] see now, then that would be a fair concern.

"Is it different? The answer is no," he said.

Robert C. Wilcox, the county administrative hearing officer, has scheduled a hearing on the request at 10: 30 a.m. tomorrow at the Arundel Center in Annapolis.

The Rocklins plan to use a vacant one-story building behind their main building for the new occupants, increasing the capacity from 15 to 20 elderly residents. They also have asked that the main building be allowed to remain where it is -- even though the facility is less than 50 feet from the property lines, a violation of zoning law.

Strauss, who has lived in Riviera Beach for 27 years, said he fears the expansion would attract more automobile traffic.

"We have a lot of little kids running around," he said, adding that he has talked to at least six neighbors who share his sentiments. "We don't need a lot more cars around here."

Strauss also said that on eight occasions last year, occupants of the facility have walked away and knocked on his front door, mistaking his home for theirs.

"They're lost, and they're confused," he said. "That's a problem."

Blumenthal said he was unaware of the problem but promised that his clients would prevent further incidents from occurring.

"I can assure you that that's not something they want," he said.

He also said that the facility would not hire any more than the 12 employees who currently work there and that any new traffic would come from relatives or friends visiting during the non-rush hours of the weekdays.

Despite Strauss' objections, Sylvia A. Costello, whose home faces Locust Lodge, said she supports the facility's request.

"Those people look very happy over there," she said. "It looks like a very nice place. I think they're doing a great thing there."

Pub Date: 6/19/96

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