Aaron Building

This is an architectural rendering of the east-facing view of the proposed new facility in the distance, with a building of Bender Plaza in the foreground. (Courtesy visual)

But this 50-unit project could be appealed to the City Council

LYNDEN ­— The city Planning Commission, after hearing both sides, decided Oct. 10 against an Aaron Drive five-story senior housing building proposed by Hollander Investments.

The 5-0 vote is advisory to the City Council, and the proponent says he does plan to continue to try to win city approval.

Commissioners went along with a motion by member Lynn Templeton that the 50-unit, 45-foot-high building didn’t meet criteria the commission must consider for making changes in a Planned Residential Development.

The change is sought in a PRD agreement going back to 1994 involving RB Development on 28.7 acres north of Aaron Drive and east to Vinup Road. This area includes Parkview Apartments, the Christian Health Care Center, Lynden Manor assisted-living and associated townhomes, and Heritage Park Estates condos.

“Simply stated, I don’t think the application has met the standards set by the PRD,” Templeton said.

Joining him on the vote were commisioners Gerald Veltkamp, Blair Scott, Brett Kok and newest member Bryan Korthuis.

The site is immediately south of Parkview fronting on Aaron, area about 37 feet deep and 180 feet wide. The application asks for a 15-foot setback to the street property line instead of the previously set 25 feet for the perimeter. 

Adjustments per-unit on parking and storage requirements are also asked.

Proponent Mark Hollander argued for a high need in Lynden for this type of small one-bedroom and studio apartments — of 325 to 420 square feet — that  especially could serve seniors. “Seniors are willing to live in small spaces,” he said.

This is “a certain kind of housing in a unique spot” close to CHCC, the WTA bus route and Bender Plaza amenities, Hollander said. “This makes planning sense, in my opinion.”

But Parkview neighbors said they would be in the shadow of the tall new building, which would obstruct their view and impair “liveability and quality of life.” CHCC chief executive officer Patrick O’Neill wondered about the evacuation from a five-story building in an  emergency. Resident Ron Hendricks said the size of the building did not seem to fit into the neighborhood.

O’Neill also agreed that the CHCC’s 142 beds should be counted into the overall 437 maximum residential units allowed in RB Development ­— which Hollander does not do — and then the proposed units would exceed the maximum.

Of CHCC residents, commission chair Diane Veltkamp had said earlier, “For many of them, that is their home.”

Len Vander Velden spoke as a citizen in favor of the Hollander application. 

Veltkamp, who was on the commission when RB Development was passed, noted the intricate combination of height restrictions, setbacks and perimeter restrictions that together were supposed to preserve the overall quality appearance of the development.

Mark Hollander, in a statement, says this kind of development is needed. 

“We only have one rest home/senior care center in this city. It’s a critical service to the community and a major employer. My project complements their business. Also, this project does not compete with the existing assisted-living facilities. It is different. My complex is just apartments just much smaller than average sized units,” he emailed to the Tribune on Friday.