Oakdale considers rezoning for a senior-care facility

OAKDALE -- When Lance Stowe's mother started showing signs of dementia, the Oakdale resident moved her from Southern California to Modesto. He would have moved her to an assisted-care facility in Oakdale, but there weren't any.

Stowe was among a handful of Oakdale residents at a City Council meeting Monday speaking in favor of a senior-care community at Crane Road and Greger Street geared toward people 55 and older.

Even after seeing the welcoming designs of the other communities architect Steve Kodama has built, some were skeptical.

"I'm not against senior citizens or assisted care. I'm against anything that doesn't mitigate water runoff from that land," said Rick Bartkowski, who noted that his property has been flooded with runoff from neighbor Don Nay's land.

Nay is asking the city to rezone the land so he can build high- density cottages and an apartmentlike building. It's zoned for a neighborhood with large yards, which would blend with the ranchettes nearby.

Nay envisions 58 small cottages for independent living, and a two-story building with 100 beds for assisted living and 20 beds for long-term memory care patients. A community center and lush landscaped grounds would tie the buildings together.

A high-density facility on the land would cover more land than a ranchette neighborhood, which means less open land to soak up rain and a greater likelihood Bartkowski's property would be flooded during a heavy rain.

"That would be a threat to public safety," Bartkowski added.

Others worried that rezoning the property would allow Nay to build apartments eventually.

"Once zoned 'high density,' there are no assurances some other owner won't come back later and build apartments," said Brian Lemons, who farms near Nay's Crane Road pro- perty.

Nay said people's concerns were nothing more than what he expected.

Some worried about the liability of having seniors, some with dementia, near their farms.

"I understand the concern. It just doesn't happen. Buildings are designed to prevent wandering," said Lee Cory, a senior housing operator.

Mayor Farrell Jackson expressed skepticism.

"This type of facility is needed in Oakdale," Jackson said. "We've already increased the number of houses that can be out there. I just think it would be unfair to the other landowners out there. I think there are many other areas in Oakdale for something like this."

Councilwoman Katherine Morgan and Councilman Michael Patrick Brennan disagreed.

"I think it's in a good area at the end of a housing development," Morgan said.

Before the land-use change is considered, Nay must submit a formal request. Planning commissioners then will decide if they think rezoning the land from low-density residential to high-density residential to build the facility and cottages is best for the city.

Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at ehightower@modbee.com or 578-2382.