ROXBURY,  NJ – The owners of the Merry Heart senior care center in Succasunna are seeking township approval to build a nursing home and assisted living facility on Commerce Boulevard between Main Street and  Route 46.

Merry Heart principals Blanquita and Maximo Bonifacio want to build the new facility on a 6-acre piece of land that is currently part of 16.5 acres owned by St. Therese’s Church and School, according to records. The six acres, at the northern portion of the tract bordering the railroad tracks, was once used as a ball field but is now wooded, according to a report by Roxbury Planner Russell Stern.

A plan to build on the site a 50,000-square-foot medical office building and 2,600-square-foot bank project - called The Plaza at Roxbury - received township approval 2012, but the project never proceeded due to “the great recession, the death of a business partner and other factors,” says Stern’s report.

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The proposed 72,800-square-foot, 2-story, Merry Heart annex would have 96 units that would not only serve as rooms for assisted living and senior care but also for younger people needing rehabilitation, said a town official. It would have two driveways accessing Commerce Boulevard and a 96-space parking lot, according to preliminary plans.

The Bonifacios’ plan calls for 48 units per story. Each floor would be divided into four “independent quads with 12 units, kitchen, dining room, hearth room, den, laundry room, enclosed porch and nurse’s office,” says Stern’s report. “Two ground floor open courtyards and a bistro/lounge will service the residents.”

The project needs several variances from Roxbury’s zoning ordinance. It would exceed the floor area permitted on the lot and it would be too close to the church property line.

Stern noted that Merry Heart’s main facility on Route 10 was approved by the township in 1999 even though it exceeds the permitted floor area ratio by even more than the annex would. He also noted he has “no objection” to the proposed annex’s proximity to the church property “as the two uses are complementary to one another" and “any impacts would be minimal as the building is located more than 165 feet from the church and 135 from the (St. Therese) school.”

Neither the Bonificios or their lawyer returned messages seeking comment.