The Prince George's County Planning Board has recommended that a special exception for a project for the elderly in Largo be denied, but planners say the proposal may be resubmitted and approved under another category of the zoning code.
A religiously affiliated development company had requested a special exception permit for a "medical residential campus," a mixture of residential and medical facilities for the elderly or handicapped that has been permitted in the county since 1977, said Dolores E. Cox, zoning analyist for the county.
The Villa Rosa Medical Residential Campus was proposed for a 58-acre tract behind the Villa Rosa Nursing Home, both owned by the Pious Society of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo Inc., west of Lottsford-Vista Road in Largo.
The board recommended denial of the special exception this week because, it said, the project did not meet one of the criteria of the medical residential campus guidelines -- that it be unique to the neighborhood.
Several years ago the county approved the Collington Episcopal Life Care Community, a medical residential campus that is now being built on 127 acres of land near Largo, said Cox.
"It was felt that another such campus would, therefore, not be unique to the area and would not fit the guidelines," she said.
However, the developers of the Villa Rosa project have told the county planning board that they will resubmit the project and request a "planned retirement community" special exception permit, which has different criteria from a medical residential campus special exception permit, said Cox.
"The uniqueness of the project would not be questioned if it were considered as a planned retirement community," said Cox. "It would be considered under different criteria."
The designated spokesman for the Pious Society was out of town and could not be reached for comment this week.
Cox said the Villa Rosa development plan actually fits in more closely with the county's concept of a retirement community than it does a medical residential campus.
The plans call for 252 one-story residential units attached in clusters throughout the property. There would be an 18,000-square-foot community center but no medical facility per se, said Cox.
"A medical residential campus usually has at least one medical facility and much more of an emphasis on medical care," she said. "This Villa Rosa project is more along the lines of a retirement community."
The county has approved several medical residential campus projects in the last eight years, said planning board spokesman Bob Reed. Under county law, the campuses must provide housing and medical services for handicapped or elderly residents, he said.
Planned retirement communities have been around longer, said Cox, and require only that residents be 55 years old or older, not that there be provisions for medical care.
She said neighbors of the 58-acre site had expressed their concern during public hearings about the density of the project and landscaping of the area, concerns that the county planning board may address if it reconsiders the Villa Rosa project as a planned retirement community.
"But it's entirely possible for the project to be approved as a retirement community where it has not been approved as a medical residential campus," she said.