A packed Natick Planning Board agenda on Feb. 15 included the latest on an intriguing plan to build an assisted living and memory care facility called 200 Pond Road…to be located fittingly enough at 200 Pond Road on the Natick/Wellesley line.
This facility would be about a mile down the road from the new Anthology senior living facility in Natick on Rte. 135.
The proponent for this Pond Road project has submitted a citizen petition for Natick’s Spring Annual Town Meeting for a zoning bylaw change to expand the town’s assisted living overlay plan to cover this property, and was seeking Planning Board support for it at the meeting. The board heard a brief presentation from the proponent, whose team includes a cast of many, as well as from neighbors, and discussion has been continued to March 1.
We broke news about this project last July, when the preliminary plan was to call the facility Wellesley Senior Living.
200 Pond Rd. is a Wellesley address that leads into a long driveway and property located in Natick atop the scenic road that cuts between Rte. 16 and Rte. 135. Overall, the area covers about 10 acres, more than half in Natick. A humungous (10,000 sq. ft.) home sits on the property.
The previous owner of this land previously sold adjacent property to a developer who built 2 houses near the top of Pond Road. Because the property is located on a scenic road, the development was met with some concern from town officials and neighbors, and the eventual homes built were considerably smaller than the ones first proposed to Wellesley.
The proponents of 200 Pond Road made their pitch for this 134-room facility to be situated in “bucolic woodlands” (see Natick Pegasus recording, starting at about the 3-hour, 45-minute mark) by emphasizing benefits to people in need of senior living accommodations and to the town, from tax revenue and building permit fee standpoints. They pointed to the town’s master plan, which calls for more options for senior housing. A lawyer for the proponent said “there are few locations in Natick that were as perfect as this” for the project, suggesting that people will barely notice it being there from a traffic and infrastructure perspective. Information sent to us from the team said the facility would support “the larger community through musical, theatrical, literary, and culinary events like recitals from Billy Joel’s piano teacher, the Yale Whiffenpoofs, and lectures from local professors.”
A handful of neighbors aired their concerns during the meeting, including one resident who argued “it may be the perfect use [of this property] for the companies… it’s not the perfect use for the neighborhood, it would represent a dramatic change to the neighborhood.” Another neighbor aired concerns about whether a seemingly high-end facility like this would actually be out of the price range of Natick residents and possibly be more of a benefit to Wellesley residents (“there’s a lot of money over in Wellesley…”). Other neighbors lawyered up, and their attorney weighed in.
Planning Board members reined in the proponents from presenting too much detail or too many artists’ renderings about their plans, saying this hearing was focused on giving the board a chance to consider whether it wanted to support the citizen petition about the proposed zoning change, not on any project plans. Any such plans would “be taken with a grain of salt” at this point in the process, Board member Terri Evans said.