City planners have urged developers to reduce the height of a proposed assisted living center to prevent it from looming over a historic neighborhood off East Main Street.
"If built as proposed, it will dominate portions of the landscape in the historic district," a report prepared by the Medford Planning Department finds.
The developer of the project, Alex Jauregui, on Friday asked for a continuation until April 5 of a public hearing by the Site Plan and Architectural Review Commission to address the concerns raised by planning staff.
Jauregui has proposed a 52,688-square-foot assisted living center next to the Geneva-Minnesota Historic District, which contains 34 homes that represent craftsman, bungalow and other period styles from the early 20th century.
Neighbors on Geneva Street and Minnesota Avenue have criticized the proposed center because it would exceed 35 feet in height.
"The height of this building is not within the scale of anything around it," said Richard Balzer, a neighbor who spoke before the commission Friday. "We need to preserve and protect neighborhoods that are already established."
Neighbors previously objected to a methadone clinic located in the existing buildings on the 800 block of East Main. The clinic plans to move out later this year.
City planners said the homes to the west on Geneva Street would be more affected by the project than those on Minnesota Street.
The developers have proposed incorporating existing building foundations and some exterior walls into the new assisted living center, which would have 67 units, with 20 dedicated for patients with Alzheimer's disease.
The building, referred to as "building A" by planners, is situated to the west of the property near Geneva Street. It would be close to the property line on the north side and be two stories in height for the first 32 feet, then transition to three stories.
"Building A's height and mass would make it so visible from the abutting historic district that it would be a de facto part of the historic neighborhood," the planning report stated.
According to the existing design, windows in the assisted living center would look out into the backyards of the neighbors to the west.
City planners recommend that building A be reduced in size to one story. They suggested the developer consider changing the building design to allow a three-story and possibly four-story building in another area of the property.
If the developer didn't agree to continue the public hearing on Friday, planning staff recommended the commission deny the application.
As proposed, the project would have 43 parking spaces, the maximum number required by the city. Planners have recommended removal of two parking spaces on the west side because of safety reasons.
A 10-foot buffer of vegetation has been proposed between the center and the yards in the historic neighborhood.
The developer is in discussions with Rogue Valley Transportation District over a proposed bus stop shelter on East Main.
The craftsman-style design of the center replaces a proposal that included a sky bridge connecting to a Frank Clark-designed house west of the property. The historical commission rejected that plan a year ago.
Portland attorney Greg Hathaway and Ronald L. Grimes Architects, both of whom represent the developer, could not be reached for comment Friday.