All members of the Wayzata City Council and Mayor Johanna Mouton agreed the community is in need of care options for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

They also agreed the Planned Unit Development amendment and design deviations requested by TMSC of Wayzata are not appropriate for the Highlands neighborhood.

The building on 163 Wayzata Boulevard W. is owned by Burt Elmer of TMSC of Wayzata. It was formerly Meridian Manor, a senior care facility which opened in 1994. It closed in April due to COVID-19 concerns.

The new business, Moments of Wayzata, would be a senior living community for 88 residents with an adult daycare facility for up to 20 people per day. 

The applicant requested a PUD amendment and design standard deviations. The amendment was to build an addition on the west side of the existing building and add parking space. The new addition would house an adult daycare center and new office space. The design deviations were to request permission to add parking in front of the building and to not have a massing break on the front facade which would be part of the overall remodel. The applicant intends to do a complete remodel of the interior of the existing building as well.

The new addition and expanded parking would require a number of trees to be displaced. In total, 37 significant trees would be removed. The developer said they intend to relocate a number of these trees, many of which would be along Wayzata Boulevard.

Elizabeth Wright, founder and president of Moments of Wayzata, said adults needing memory care are an underserved population. Providing an adult daycare would offer a helpful service for people who care for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“We are now making it a standard to have adult daycare in our communities whenever possible,” she said.

The adult daycare addition would be a 13,000 square-foot building, which is the cause for a majority of the public’s concern. Elmer noted the height of the building was one of the concerns and the developers took that into consideration, though some public commenters disagreed.

“The applicant has failed to work in good faith with the neighbors. To stay on the narrative they worked with the neighbors and addressed their concerns is simply not true,” said David Kirkland, a Wayzata resident. “This proposal is emblematic of the environmentally destructive development creep that has taken hold in our city and must be stopped.”

Having the building’s trash enclosure in front of the building and the displacement of trees also raised criticism.

“I’m highly skeptical you can take a 20-year-old tree and pick it up and not have it die,” said Daniel Drotning, Wayzata resident. “There’s going to be an awful lot of trees that aren’t going to make it.

Drotning noted he and his wife Eileen purchased their home across from the property in question when it was still a farm.

“Since 1994 we had the Meridian Manor structure across from us. That functioned really well with a few minor tweaks,” he said. “Now we have a group that wants to change to almost 90,000 square-feet. I don’t think any of you want a structure that big built across from your homes.”

The Planning Commission recommended approving the requests from the applicant, but the council voted unanimously to deny. 

“The thing that really hits me is the two design deviations being asked for. Those are two brand new things we put into our design standards for a reason,” said council member Alex Plechash. “To right out of the gate grant deviation to two standards we just put in place does not seem correct to me.”

The original PUD also designates the area for light traffic. Council member Jeff Buchanan said he worries the adult daycare will greatly increase traffic.

Despite denying the requests of the applicant, the council said they would still like to see the Moments of Wayzata’s services added to the community, as well as the needed remodeling of the property. Plechash clarified the vote was not a rejection of Moments of Wayzata.

“There’s so much good about your plan. I want to see you come back with a different plan that takes into account the concerns we have,” he said.