Seniors enjoying retirement living in Mount Airy's Wildwood complex Developer seeks zoning exception for apartments

July 12, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

The developer of Mount Airy's year-old senior citizen village plans to ask town officials for a zoning exception that would allow him to build apartments for the elderly.

To meet the demand for senior housing, developer Michael Berman wants to add apartments to Wildwood Park, a housing complex on a 10-acre tract at Park and Ridge avenues.

He said the first section of the complex, which consists of 11 houses and duplexes, is filled and he has advance contracts for six of the 16 houses planned in a second section now under construction.

"We're ready to present plans to the town on a continuum of services to seniors, from independent living to a rental facility, and then ultimately we have in our master plan a day care center for seniors," Berman said.

He said he expects to submit the apartment plans after Mount Airy officials replace town planner Teresa Bamberger, who resigned July 1. Berman said he has looked at proposals for assisted-living units, but is not ready to submit a plan to the town.

He has not determined how many apartments to build.

Berman's request for an exception for senior citizen apartments will go first to the town planning commission. The commission will then make a recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The site is zoned to allow dwellings by special exception.

Wildwood Park is the culmination of four years of planning by a local senior housing committee. Spurred by resident C. Oscar Baker, who wanted to spend his older years in Mount Airy, the committee surveyed other senior housing, drew up a list of features it wanted and then worked with Berman to have the features incorporated into house designs.

"We decided that what we'd like is individual houses that were adaptable for seniors," said Baker, 74, housing committee chairman.

The houses are duplexes in one-, two- and three-bedroom versions separated by garages. Units have either one or two levels. None have basements, and all have front porches.

Prices range from $117,000 for a one-bedroom house with one bath to $140,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath house. Buyers can have a third or fourth bedroom added for an additional charge, Berman said.

Many prospective owners are longtime Mount Airy residents who want smaller houses, but don't want to leave the community.

"As you grow older, you need your friends and your church, and it's sad to have to leave all that," said LaVerna White, 70, who served on the senior housing committee.

She plans to sell the large house on Route 27 where she has lived for 20 years and move into one of the 16 units this fall. She said Wildwood Park's location is ideal because it is within walking distance of the library and senior center.

R. Lee Fogle, 63, a senior housing committee member, said he and his wife aren't ready to leave their Victorian house for the village, "but I can see the day when I will."

After 40 years of living in Mount Airy, Fogle said he has no interest in relocating.

"It's a good place to live," he said. "I wouldn't move out of Mount Airy."

Pub Date: 7/12/96

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