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Development: Assisted living center seeks zoning for 81 units

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

A North Carolina company will seek a change to the Allston Plantation “planned development” to allow a larger assisted living facility.

Ridge Care, a Kernersville, N.C., company, is proposing a facility with 81 units on the 4.5-acre tract south of the Allston Plantation entrance on Highway 17. The proposed building contains 59,756 square feet with 60 private and four semi-private rooms for assisted living and two private and 15 semi-private rooms for Alzheimer’s patients.

Patrick Williams of SGA Architecture will be the agent for Ridge Care. SGA Architecture, owned by Georgetown County Council Member Steve Goggans, designed the new Coastal Montessori Charter School under construction on the north side of Allston Plantation along Old Plantation Drive.

Debra Dempsey, president of the Allston Plantation Homeowners Association, said she wanted to reserve comment on the development until she could get more feedback from the community. The county planning staff said in its report that board members and the applicant had discussed traffic patterns, landscaping and buffers. No objections were raised at the meeting.

A 66-unit assisted living facility was an approved use for a portion of Allston Plantation at its inception in 2001. The northern tract was amended in 2004 to allow 50,000 square feet of commercial office development in place of the assisted living facility. The tract was amended again in 2015 for the charter school.

The planning staff recommends approval of the request based on the initial inclusion of assisted living in the development and the reduction in the amount of traffic compared to a commercial building. The proposed assisted living facility is expected to generate 174 vehicle trips per day, well below the threshold required for a traffic impact analysis. Estimates for an office and retail development are 1,430 daily trips.

The project would be required to comply with the design standards of the Waccamaw Neck Commercial Corridor Overlay Zone. A 50-foot setback for the “planned development” was approved before rules required all buildings to be 90 feet from the highway. The building will be 70 feet from the highway at its closest point.

The facility will be Ridge Care’s first in South Carolina, according to Matt Sobota, the company’s director of development. It is building its 13th facility, an assisted living complex, in Morehead City, N.C., and will build an independent living facility in Hampstead, N.C., north of Wilmington, next. Ridge Care has 1,100 employees caring for 780 residents. The Pawleys Island facility will hire 80 to 100 local people, he said.

Sobota said the additional rooms make the project economically feasible. “There’s plenty of room for this facility,” he said.

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