Town Hall Notes: An impact fee for the elderly?

Is it possible to charge a senior citizen impact fee?

That’s the question the Riverhead Town Board wrestled with at its work session last Thursday, while discussing a proposal to create zoning that would allow assisted living facilities in Riverhead.

Officials say current town zoning doesn’t permit assisted living anywhere in Riverhead. Assisted living facilities provide housing for seniors and are capable of taking them through varying levels of care as they age.

Ronald DeVito of Concordia Senior Communities in Melville has informally proposed building a 200,000-square-foot assisted living community on about 25 acres on the east side of Mill Road, just north of Home Depot, but hasn’t filed an application because the zoning doesn’t permit it yet.

Town Board members have expressed concern about how an assisted living center might affect local ambulance services and have been trying to come up with a way to mitigate any potential impact.

Mr. DeVito said he’s not opposed to paying a fee toward ambulance services, and said he’d like to have a modified urgent care center on site that would be affiliated with a hospital.

“We are willing to pay,” Mr. DeVito said.

On Monday, following a meeting with representatives of the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the likely solution appeared to be a monetary payment to the corps, according to its  president, Ron Rowe, who attended the meeting.

Supervisor Sean Walter later confirmed Mr. Rowe’s assertion.

Mr. Walter had advocated for the fee last Thursday, but officials were unsure if it was legal.

On Tuesday, he said the fee can legally be imposed.

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