Planning Commission discusses senior housing needs

By Heather Michon

The Fluvanna Planning Commission held a work session on Wednesday (March 9) to discuss how to address senior housing needs in the county in the coming years.

By 2030, around 20 percent of Americans will be aged 65 or older. Seventy-five percent of seniors in Virginia live in suburban or rural areas, most in single-family, multi-story buildings.

According to a 2015 census survey, about 19 percent of Fluvanna County and 22 percent of Lake Monticello residents are aged 65 or more. Around 37 percent of households in the county have at least one member who is over 65.

Despite this sizable — and growing — population, Community Development Director Douglas Miles noted that only about half of a page in the commission’s lengthy 2015 Comprehensive Plan was devoted to senior housing issues.

He said COVID, which proved so deadly in nursing homes, is likely to accelerate the trend towards developing accessible, single-story homes in multigenerational communities that allow seniors better opportunities to “age in place.”

While the zoning now exists for the development of senior-friendly housing in Fluvanna, actual construction has lagged.

“Senior housing is non-existent here in the county,” said in his presentation. “You basically have the Nahor Village neighborhood [and] that is almost built out.”

There are two housing developments currently in process that will help alleviate the shortage. Village Oaks on Lake Monticello Road has plans for 60 residential units for seniors that could expand to 120 units. Colonial Circle, across from Effort Church on Rt. 53, will be a multigenerational community with 325 units.

Another growth area may be multigenerational families living in the same home. Miles said his office had received multiple requests for information about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), small apartments built onto the main dwelling, or stand-alone units on the same lot.

Some of the issues commission members suggested were worthy of more study and discussion included:

  • Public transportation between new developments and Charlottesville;
  • The feasibility of affordable senior housing at Zion Crossroads;
  • Funding sources for modifying existing homes to make them more accessible;
  • How a larger senior population impacts the need for social services;
  • Fostering a sense of community and volunteerism.

“Aging can be very personal,” said Miles. It is important to help seniors “maintain their dignity so that they feel like they’re still solid participants in the communities they’re living in.”

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