City says ordinance won’t be changed to accommodate assisted living home

PALM VALLEY — She asked. But she didn’t receive the answer she had hoped.

It was quite apparent last night, city officials were not in favor of a proposal by resident Janice Robinson that would have turned her home at 1016 Palm Valley Drive East into an assisted living home.

They didn’t mince words.

“I advised you that we have stringent rules and ordinances that don’t allow businesses in our community,” Palm Valley Mayor George Rivera said to Robinson. “I ran for mayor to have our city get younger, not older. But I promised you an audience (for the request). I commend you for coming to our office first, but I am opposed to your request.”

Robinson said her home currently is too much for her and she has in fact already moved out of the home. Just like she has with other homes, she wanted to turn this one into an assisted living home.

She said these types of facilities are “very successful in the care of the elderly.” She also said the facilities are smaller, so those in the home don’t “get lost in the shuffle.”

However, she also said she understood the city’s regulations. In most scenarios an appearance at the city level is not required.

“I don’t want to put money into something that will cause problems into my life,” she said. “It would be beneficial to the community.”

But members of the Palm Valley City Council weren’t so sure.

Almost one by one, they each stated they had received feedback from their neighbors and other local residents. Not one, they said, was in favor of the assisted living home.

“I am personally opposed,” council woman Julie Martin said. “I don’t think it would benefit the city.”

Rivera said city ordinances would have to be rewritten to allow “commercial businesses.”

Robinson was quick to respond, saying calling it a “commercial business is a stretch.”

“It is for the elderly to get care,” Robinson said. “If you want to state it is a commercial business, that is a stretch. It is insured as a home.”

After council members admitted they had not received a single comment in favor of the concept, Rivera left it clear for Robinson.

“I am afraid the council is in agreement with the majority that we will not change the ordinance if you formally request it,” Rivera said. “You can formally submit something, but I am advising you now, with this council you have now, at this time, they will oppose this. Please understand we have the ordinance and we will follow it. I would suggest you don’t pursue this.”

Robinson, who was still standing at the podium to address the council, had a simple reply before she walked out of the council chambers.

“I appreciate your honesty,” she said.