Lawsuit delays nursing homes in 2 communities But firm moving forward with assisted living units

September 20, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF Sun researcher Jean Packard contributed to this article.

An Ellicott City company is delaying construction of nursing homes in two Carroll County communities, pending a lawsuit, but is moving forward with its plans for assisted-living apartments in Mount Airy.

Lorien Home Health Care Inc. and its construction partner, Commercial Contractors of Towson, are deferring plans for nursing homes in Mount Airy and Taneytown until a lawsuit filed by Pleasant View Nursing Home Inc. of Mount Airy is settled, the firm's attorney said.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments in November on Lorien's decision to divide its 125-bed nursing home allocation, originally approved for Taneytown, into two nursing homes -- a 63-bed home in `f Taneytown and a 62-bed home in Mount Airy.

Pleasant View appealed to the court after a circuit judge ruled against it in the spring. Pleasant View wants Lorien to restart the process of obtaining certificates for the nursing home beds.

The Maryland Health Resources Planning Commission approved Lorien's plan last year, but Pleasant View filed suit, arguing that the commission should have treated the division as a new application. Such action would have opened the proposal to a public hearing and allowed Pleasant View to present opposition.

Lorien attorney James Forsyth said the company remains committed to building the nursing homes and apartments in both Carroll communities, but the lawsuit may delay the groundbreaking on the nursing homes until spring.

"We're as frustrated as anyone. We want to get cracking," Forsyth said.

He said lawyers for Pleasant View have not been interested in reaching a settlement out of court.

Pleasant View attorney Jack C. Tranter said the nursing home owners are "certainly willing to listen to any settlement proposal they [Lorien] may have." He said Forsyth has not offered a specific proposal as a basis for negotiating a settlement.

The delay has frustrated Taneytown Mayor W. Robert Flickinger.

"There have been a lot of people asking when it's going to get started because they're interested in getting in," he said. "But I'm not going to make a list. I don't want to get people's hopes up if they're not going to build."

Flickinger said he doesn't understand why Lorien doesn't begin construction of its planned 199-unit apartment complex -- 84 of them assisted-living units -- in Taneytown.

Assisted-living apartments, unlike nursing home beds, are not regulated by the Health Resources Planning Commission.

A business decision

Joseph C. LaVerghetta, general counsel for Commercial Contractors, said it was a business decision to start construction of the assisted-living units in Mount Airy first.

He said he believed the decision was based on the fact that the Mount Airy project will be built in a senior citizen village, "where you are more likely to have clients, whereas in Taneytown, we have a 10-acre parcel that kind of stands alone."

tTC Lorien has received site plan approval in Taneytown and Mount Airy for the nursing home and apartments.

Approval OK'd

In Mount Airy, town planner Monika Jenkins said a public works agreement for the nursing home and apartments is nearly final.

The town has approved the 199-unit complex. When the public (( works agreement is completed, the developer can begin construction after posting a bond and paying permit fees, she said.

Pub Date: 9/20/98

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