Ocean View board denies assisted-living request

Members of Ocean View’s Board of Adjustment told a town couple on May 18 that they can not extend their assisted-living business in its current location at 49 West Avenue.

After hearing extensive opposition to Lloyd and Andrea Elling’s plan, those members denied their request to build six cottage-style structures in which to house more independent adults who are still in need of some assistance.

The Ellings requested a special exception from town zoning laws, which only allow single-family homes in an R-1 district.

“The intentions are wonderful,” Planning and Zoning Chairman Dick Logue said. But, “When a person moves into an R-1 district, there’s a reasonable expectation that it is going to be single-family homes.”

“It’s out of character in the neighborhood,” Commissioner William Olsen said. “It’s like back-room rezoning.”

The Ellings operate an assisted-living business out of their home on 49 West Avenue. As many as eight people have lived in the home with the Ellings for a summer program. Only two currently live with the Ellings in the home. The Ellings assist those two with things such as picking up their medicine, transporting them to doctors’ appointments and cooking food.

The six cottages would have allowed adults living in the home to live a more independent, but still assisted, lifestyle. They could cook and do laundry for themselves in their own cottage, for instance, but the Ellings would still help them with transportation and medication. The six structures would house up to 12 people, Lloyd Elling said in his presentation to the commission.

Although many nearby residents didn’t disagree with the concept, they disagreed with the business’ location. The town entered six letters of disagreement from nearby residents into the record of the hearing.

“The Ellings have been very good neighbors,” said Vickie York, who lives at 50 West Avenue. “I understand what they’re trying to do is good. But I do oppose it. It’s out of character for the neighborhood.”

Barbara Slavin, the Ellings’ neighbor living at 41 West Avenue, worried that approving such as request would set a precedent, allowing other businesses to open in the area.

“If the special exception was granted, that could set a precedent,” said town attorney Rob Robinson. Robinson said that group homes with up to 10 residents can still be zoned single-family, and that hospitals and sanatoriums are eligible for special exceptions in the town’s R-1 zone. Apparently, though, it was an exception the town was unwilling to make for the Ellings, who left evidently distraught by last Thursday’s proceedings.

“The objective of any healthcare is to help people be more independent,” said Lloyd Elling, who suggested that those in opposition didn’t want people in need of assistance living in their neighborhood. “I’m disappointed. It’s hardly an impact. I think this is a positive thing for the community.”

The Ellings have been running their assisted living business at their West Avenue home for four years, after performing the same service for the four years previous in another Ocean View home. Lloyd Elling, who plans to retire in seven years, has worked with adults and children in need of assistance for 23 years. He said that he doesn’t have further plans to attempt to expand before retirement.

“It makes some people nervous. They think their property value is going to go down, although they have no proof of that,” Lloyd Elling said. “It’s over. I’ll just focus on the house here.”