Lakeview elder care home plans move forward without permit | NevadaAppeal.com
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Lakeview elder care home plans move forward without permit

Jill Lufrano
Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Attorney Michael Matuska tells city supervisors his client Karen Kelly may include seniors without disabilities at her proposed senior care home in Lakeview. Matuska was speaking to the supervisors while an overflow concerned citizens filled the room Thursday evening
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A Lakeview homeowner will continue with her plan to open a 10-person elder care home in the exclusive neighborhood after city officials discovered the owner didn’t need a special-use permit to operate under state law, an attorney said Friday.

Karen Kelly, who also runs three similar group homes in California, discovered Thursday she does not need the city’s permission to operate on Numaga Pass after city supervisors clarified the situation.

“She plans to proceed with her state license application to run a residential group home to provide basic care for up to 10 disabled seniors,” attorney Michael Matuska said Friday. “And, she plans to proceed with any improvements she needs to make to the house that allows her to do that.”

Kelly’s plan sparked widespread opposition during the past few months in the neighborhood on the northern edge of Carson City. Citing violations of conditions, covenants and restrictions agreed to by Lakeview homeowners, neighbors have hired attorneys and fear loss of property value, traffic and safety issues.

Lakeview Property Owners Association member Vince Costa said the neighborhood board may meet to discuss what type of action, if any, would be taken about Kelly’s home as she plans her move forward.

“This has no place in Lakeview,” Costa said. “We’ve got to review everything and decide what our best course of action is.”

The group-home controversy has forced city officials to take notice of a previously obscure state law that allows groups homes for seniors, recovering drug and alcohol abusers and disabled residents to exist in any single-family neighborhood, regardless of private contracts among homeowners prohibiting it.

Filed late last year, the application confused city staff and created a mix-up among city officials who weren’t sure how to interpret the statute until Thursday.

Kelly was advised by city planning staff to apply for the special-use permit after the planning department found opposing issues between state and city laws.

“When you have two opposing issues -one where state law says it’s considered primary use and another considers it a special use as a group-care facility – the more stringent prevails,” said Community Planning and Development Director Walt Sullivan. “That’s why I made the call this should go to the special-use process at the time.”

State law allows senior care home with 10 or fewer disabled residents to operate in any residential neighborhood without a special permit, according to an interpretation by Carson Deputy District Attorney Mark Forsberg.

“If this proposal is for a home with 10 or fewer people who have disabilities, the city can’t require a special-use permit,” Forsberg told city supervisors. “The Planning Commission should not have entertained a special-use permit and you should not entertain an appeal for something that should have been permitted in the first place.”

The application was approved by the city’s Planning Commission in December. The approval was appealed by 11 parties and was considered again Thursday by the Board of Supervisors.

However, officials questioned why the application was filed at all.

“The very purpose of this (state) statute is to avoid the burdens of special-use permits for people who want to have these kinds of facilities,” Forsberg said.

In 1999, the state statute was approved to remove obstacles like deed restrictions and neighborhood covenants that prevented people with disabilities from living in “normal” residences throughout the entire community. The statute was further defined in 2001 to restrict more than one operating within a certain distance of others.

Kelly’s representative said in 10 years of operating senior-care homes in California, all residents have qualified as disabled under federal definitions, meaning they have at least one impairment of a basic activity like seeing, hearing, walking or taking care of themselves.

She may apply for a special-use permit to allow non-disabled seniors to live at the Lakeview home, but is still considering her options, Matuska said. If so, the only conditions Kelly would have to meet would be regarding public health and safety, according to state law.

Kelly purchased the home with David MacKinney in 2002, then became sole owner. She planned to live in the home as a personal residence, but after circumstances changed decided to pursue turning it into a care home.

The home at 4150 Numaga Pass would offer a private, serene place for seniors who don’t have dementia or problems that would require a lock-down, Kelly said. The facility would have one live-in aide and an assistant. Seniors age 65 and older would be selected for the home by Kelly and pay from $3,000 to $3,500 per month for full-time care.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.