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The Town Board Monday rezoned about 20 acres at North Fifth Street and Chicora Road for a proposed assisted living facility.

About 80 persons attended a public hearing on the rezoning. An earlier hearing on the same subject was held in January, but residents in the village living near the facility were not notified by mail concerning the development, so a new hearing was required.

According to a lengthy resolution read by Councilman D. James Langlois, the Town Board rezoned the property to a class of residential known as cluster housing from single-family residential.

The Town Board also gave an environmental approval to the project. Langlois explained that the board had to approve the environmental statement for the whole project, which may at some time have 98 units.

The first portion of the project, which still has not received final site-plan approval, is for 40 units. The proposed name of the facility is the Lewiston Commons and the developers are known as Health Systems Services, Limited.

Both votes were 4-0, with Councilman Michael A. Johnson abstaining because of his ties with Stovroff & Potter, a real-estate firm which had been connected at one point with the property deal.

His statements after the votes were in favor of the rezoning. Eleven persons spoke in favor while four opposed the rezoning.

David Paonessa of Hillside Drive said he was in favor of the development, which is proposed by Mag Seven, a local group which includes the Violanti family and Samuel Talarico.

Thomas P. Denn of Meadowbrook Drive said, "I have lived for 30 years in the shadow of Mount St. Mary's Hospital," and people were against placing that facility on Military Road. In addition, he compared the final approval of the Fairchild Manor nursing home in Lewiston to the current proposed facility.

"That's been there for several years, and I don't hear any hue and cry about that facility," Denn said.

"Do you understand what it means to totally restructure the neighborhood by changing the zoning?" Mario DeMita of Aberdeen Road asked.

Martin P. Hodgins of Harper Drive said the Town Board should have asked the developers to place the assisted living facility somewhere else in the town. He said there are at least four other possible sites for it.

Jeffery D. Palumbo, an attorney who represents the developers, said he hopes to have plans before the Planning Board within 30 days.

Many of those in the crowd were wearing buttons that said, "We Support Our Seniors."

In addition, a yellow school bus paid for by the developers toted about a dozen people to the hearing.

Elizabeth W. Hopper of Historical Square Apartments, a senior citizen complex, said the developers had a sign-up sheet for her and others to ride the bus. The developers also supplied the buttons, Hopper said.

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