Huge commercial project behind me

demeron(Zone 6)March 20, 2013

Hi, all. The Deathstar has arrived-- that is, the 60,000 sf nursing home is going up behind us. To do this, they changed the grade across several acres. Right behind our fence it is at its steepest, 8 feet high which is 2 feet above the fence with the slope just a few feet beyond our fenceline. Looks a bit like a rising tide of dirt ready to overtake us. The nursing home itself has a wing which will be 50 feet past our fenceline. It's single story, so that is one mercy. I've hired someone to help us with the landscaping on our side, but I am hoping for ideas on what to suggest to the township. Right now there is a plan for staggered 6 foot evergreens at the base of the slope. That leaves the tops 2 feet below foundation grade so not much help with privacy! This nursing home is essentially going to be jutting out over our backyard on its own personal cliff.

The township and developer have agreed the current plan is problematic and have said "they'll work with it." I could use some help in what to suggest to them. I had thought of asking for the staggered white pine or whatever evergreen they pick to be placed near or at the top of the slope, perhaps with some small flowering deciduous trees on the slope itself (think it's a 3:1 rise if I'm remember right.) The slope will be awkward to mow-- there's so little space between it and the fence.

I know careful landscaping can make the difference between misery and something that's tolerable/resellable. I will ask my guy for advice, but meanwhile I thought I would put it to you all. Any thoughts for me?

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demeron(Zone 6)

More pictures-- this is the lot beside us. Wondering if there is any way at all to rescue this situation...

1 Like    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:51PM
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Oh my! That looks illegal. What will you do with the rain run off? Can you insist that they terrace it way back and have some kind of drainage system in place?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 8:52PM
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demeron(Zone 6)

The drainage was a big issue and has been extensively and expensively addressed-- how it works remains to be seen.

It's privacy and aesthetics that are so unfortunate for us. Can't help but feel we lost $100,000 in resale value. Hoping to mitigate the damage if it's possible.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 6:58AM
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Here we see how engineers do landscape design! Actually, no one's construction project is ever pretty to anyone but the owners and those working on it. I would imagine that by the time this project is finished, while you might still not prefer it to what you had before, it will look reasonably decent and not offensive. (Anymore than is common anyway!) After all, the owners must interest prospective tenants in living there. If I were you, I'd be concentrating on what I could do on my own site that would help me deal with what's coming. Surely there will be views you wish to hide so maybe it's time to start working on the screening now.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:36AM
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demeron(Zone 6)

Thanks, Yardvaark. Comfort is always welcome! Getting a lot of sympathetic looks and arm squeezes at the moment. "Those used to be such nice houses," said the lady in my choir. While kind, this is not making me feel any better!

I have hired an LD who is presenting his plan Friday, yay! I will ask him as well.

There is some hope that the township/developer will be willing to throw me a bone and I am not sure what bone I want to ask for. A few deciduous flowering trees? Some sort of handsome shrub or ground cover on the slope?
It looks just really strange right now-- like an oncoming tide cresting in back of my house.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:54AM
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The bone I would ask for is flowering trees on the slope. Surely, they will not leave bare earth as the finished product so you can figure that there will be some sort of groundcover on the slope... which, depending on how all of this relates to their facility, may become an unattended weedy, green "natural area." People post pictures of such areas here from time to time and, oddly, others fawn over how lovely such "natural" areas are. You might find out how they're planning on treating this slope/berm as their solution might already be sufficient and your asking for something different to be interjected into it might actually create a less desirable finished product.

Several years back one of my best friends lived at the edge of our town in a house that had been the family home for decades. Then the state decided to build an interstate highway less than 1/2 mile to the south. And a corporation decided to build a plant nearby. Since there was nothing between my friend's family home and the interstate but cornfield, and it was decimated during the multi-year-long project, my friend was at her wits end during the whole process, thinking that her life and property was forever ruined. She attended every meeting relevant to the construction of the projects, wrote letters to every person involved, complained constantly and was basically consumed by the construction process until the road and plant was finished (about 3 or so years ?) Once all the construction equipment was gone and the landscaping was in place, everything calmed down. It wasn't all that much time after that my friend stopped giving any of it a thought. Today, I'm sure she never even thinks about what seemed like so much grief at the time. (She still lives in the same house.)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 10:35AM
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rosiew(8 GA)

I hope that the people who run your township are very responsive to you. An effective and preferably evergreen staggered screen between your property and the nursing home is what my city would require. They also say it must be a mixed border, i.e., not just Leylands.

The current plan, placing them at the base, is NOT ACCEPTABLE. You have rights and if your Planning Dept. doesn't require what you feel is necessary, you can go to their bosses - Mayor and Council or whatever it is called where you live.

Another thing. Have you involved other property owners in your actions? I know from personal experience how a roomful of property owners will get the attention of a Planning Commission and of Mayor and Council. Also, you could ask that they erect a wood 8' fence - if you would want that.

Yet another idea, send mail to each member of the above groups.

Truly regret you're in this situation.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 11:10AM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Another thing to think of in your own garden and guessing on your zone more important when you might open windows.....

Moms place is pretty much on the next low hill from a nursing home and 2 hills from a big medical center. You would think they were ER's by the number of ambulances that race up with sirens blaring.

I am debating if there is a fountain/water feature large enough to take the edge off some of the noise from those two locations. The good news is....a surgery center is coming too.

So sorry about your landscaping issue. But I would certain look to asking them to plant so you do not loose too much sun in your yard should you enjoy gardening and decide on what you can do to draw the eye in your own yard so anything going on next door is less distressing. You might also want to see if you have the most noise dampening windows and insulation and if not, maybe it is not too late to get some help from the developer/city with that problem

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Fori is not pleased

No advice except just some sympathy and some hey that's not so bad! I know it is pretty bad at the moment and it's going to be awful during construction, but at least it's not a Walmart!

A massive nursing home could actually be a better neighbor than a bunch of homes full of noisy kids. :)

Do be certain that those 6 foot evergreens don't stop growing at 6 feet. It might be okay, really. Good luck in there!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:57AM
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demeron(Zone 6)

Thanks, my dears :)

Kippy, so sorry about the surgery center! I hope it is as Yardvark describes, not so bad once your mom gets used to it. Re soundproofing, we do have good windows and thicker walls so apart from the beeping trucks and the night they had the generator going to 11 pm, it's okay inside the house.

I met with my landscape architect on Friday (sounds so grand, doesn't it?) He had an overall scheme that I loved; just waiting for the bottom line to see how much of it we can afford. I asked him to redo an earlier plan we had from him, putting more emphasis on screening and plant material than on hardscape. The new plan has a bit of flagstone patio near the house edged with a medium-height evergreen screen. He'd grade some flat areas-- the patio, a roundish bit of lawn edged on one side by a retaining wall, some mulched paths connecting beds filled with shrubs and trees. There would be some screening near the house and something to catch the eye in the foreground.

He also suggested proposing larger 8-10' trees behind us versus the weenie 6 footers, putting them at least half-way up the slope, and seconded the decidious flowering trees. I have proposed this and I am dearly hoping they realize how severely we are impacted by this nursing home wing looming over us.

Current research directed at the best way to keep weeds out of 2000 sf of new beds without the use of Preen. I've been saving cardboard but that's a LOT of cardboard.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 4:53PM
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rosiew(8 GA)

Another bit of encouragement for you, demeron. There shouldn't be an noise issues associated with the nursing home. You should though ask to look at their plans and see if any of the a/c units will be at the rear. If so, you could ask that these be relocated. Hopefully they'll be landscaping at the rear. If that's not in their plans, another thing to ask for.

I have undeveloped land behind me, dreading the day it's built. At least it's zoned for medium density.

Hang tough.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 5:56PM
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cakbu z9 CA(9 CA)

If it were me I think I would have my home appraised just to see if/how much it has decreased in value. That could be ammunition to persuade the township in meeting your demands. I also think they should have to reimburse you in some monetary fashion to help you lessen the impact on your property.

    Bookmark   on Tuesday at 5:56AM
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