Proponents of a senior living plan for 200 Pond Rd. have pulled back on a Natick Spring Annual Town Meeting citizen petition for a zoning change that could have paved the way for such a facility.
Attorney George Richards told the Natick Finance Committee on April 6 that after meetings with neighbors and town officials “we’ve kind of heard loud and clear, and we’ve gone back to the drawing board a little bit, and we’re going to reassess the project going forward.” In Town Meeting speak, the proponent asked for the Article 30—”Expansion of Assisted Living Overlay Option Plan (ALOOP)”—to be referred back to the sponsor, and the Finance Committee complied.
So don’t expect this article to be on the agenda for Town Meeting, which starts on April 25.
The proponents of the Article have marketed their idea and fielded questions at a handful of meetings in recent months. This has included meetings with neighbors, the Council on Aging, the Rotary Club, the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, and others.
The proponents heard an earful from residents, largely neighbors, at Planning Board meetings in February and March, and the Board voted against favorable action on the article. While some residents argued in favor of more options for assisted living and memory care, the majority of neighbors who spoke were against the plan.
Those against the plan argued that it wasn’t a good fit for the neighborhood, would increase traffic on a narrow and often beat-up road, and would wreck the environment. Some neighbors put together a petition against the article. The March 15 Planning Board meeting even included a rare public meeting appearance by a member of the Hunnewell family, speaking against the plan, citing traffic and environmental concerns.
The proponents sought the zoning change so that they might 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. They frequently referred to the “bucolic” setting as ideal for assisted living and memory care residents, and shared data supporting the need for more such facilities in the area given the age of local residents. They shared design intentions, such as leaving the current entrance untouched and putting most parking under the building, that aim to nestle the project in the setting in as unobtrusive a way as is possible.
This 130-unit facility would be about a mile down the road from the new Anthology senior living facility in Natick on Rte. 135, and in fact, the executive director of that facility spoke in opposition to Article 30 at the March 15 Planning Board meeting. He said the pie for senior living facility business wouldn’t get bigger, but rather, that slices would get smaller for those offering services.
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 concern from town officials and neighbors, and the eventual homes built were considerably smaller than the ones first proposed to Wellesley.