A new addition to an assisted living home in Howell Township has received preliminary approval from the Planning Commission.

Representatives from The Willows were back before the Howell Township Commission Tuesday night with plans for a 35-bed memory-care expansion to the existing facility. Last month, action on their preliminary site plan was tabled until issues with setback distances for the building and parking lot were addressed. Planning Commission Chairman Andrew Sloan said the Zoning Board of Appeals heard their case for a variance, and granted it. As a result, the new parking lot will be reduced from 33 spots to the township minimum of 30.

Per another request of the board, architects moved away from evergreen screening to deciduous trees. Sloan, citing 50 years of nursery experience, cautioned them about their choice to use pin oaks because of the large amount of maintenance they would require near the sidewalk.

A public hearing was held for the site plan and special use permit request that is required. The two residents who spoke complimented the Willows on being good neighbors. A letter to the planning commission asked for a noisy alarm from the lift station on the site to be addressed. One suggested solution was to switch to a silent alarm that goes straight to a cell phone or text message. The site plan and the special use permit with the condition that the alarm be silenced were unanimously voted to be sent to the Board of Trustees with a recommendation for approval. (MK)