The proposed 130-unit assisted living and memory care facility at the top of Pond Road on the Natick/Wellesley line has been described as something of a chicken-and-egg situation: The developer needs both towns to approve zoning changes for the project to go forward, but which one should make the first move?
Representatives for developer Welltower have been before numerous Natick and Wellesley bodies, and the public, over the past year. On Tuesday, the project team urged the Wellesley Select Board to enter into a development agreement, that would allow for access to the main site via a driveway in Wellesley at 200 Pond Rd. As we describe in more detail on The Swellesley Report, the Select Board voted 5-0 against entering into such an agreement, with some citing concerns about the location of the proposed facility on a beloved scenic road.
The previous week, Natick’s Select Board took no position on an emerging citizen petition for Spring Annual Town Meeting for zoning amendments that could pave the way for the project from Natick’s end. However, the Board did refer the proposed amendments to the Natick Planning Board as a matter of procedure.
The senior living facility, which the developer says there is a serious need for in the area, would be located in Natick on the site of a current mansion.
The developer pulled back on a citizen petition before Natick’s Spring Annual Town Meeting last year in the face of residential opposition and a lukewarm reception by the Planning Board. It recently scored a favorable decision by Wellesley’s Planning Board—in part by dangling a possible $1M payment to the town under a future development agreement— in advance of Wellesley’s Annual Town Meeting in late March.
The next Natick Planning Board meeting is slated for Jan. 17, though this topic is not on that agenda.
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