Assisted Living Overlay District Proposed

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The Planning Board on Jan. 12 reviewed and revised the proposed zoning bylaw amendment for assisted living facilities, in response to a proposal by LCB Senior Living on South Road near Evergreen Avenue.

The suggestions from this meeting will be used to create a new draft that will be presented and discussed in a public hearing at the board’s next meeting on Jan. 26.

The new draft utilizes an overlay district to note where assisted living is an allowed use. The overlay district follows South Road, from Railroad Avenue down to Summer Street, ending at the Lexington line. It does not include Bikeway Source or Depot Park.

Planning Director Tony Fields noted that the zone specified in the draft only applies for assisted living and not other forms of senior living.

An amendment limits assisted living facilities to 100 units. Previously, the draft only specified 25 bedrooms per acre, not total units. This change was supported by the Planning Board and LCB representatives.

A statement in the previous draft regarding trail access was also amended. It was previously unclear as to how developers could implement sidewalk and trail connectivity; it has since been changed to clarify that issue. The site is contiguous to the Minuteman Bikeway.

Cindy Barbehenn, Planning Board, brought up the idea of creating zoning specifically for the site, though this idea was rebuffed by fellow member Jeff Cohen who noted that could constitute spot zoning. Member Amy Lloyd offered that there are multiple suitably large parcels in the district that could house a facility of this kind.

Lloyd noted later that the overlay district could also be seen as a trial district since assisted living is a new use in the town. Later, the map could be changed to include more areas of town, though Lloyd was against allowing assisted living as a use all over town.

Planning Board member Steve Hagan noted that dementia, included in the definition of assisted living, could possibly fall outside the scope of assisted living. However, LCB representative Lee Bloom affirmed that memory care is included in assisted living under state laws and definitions.

Shawn Hanegan of the Planning Board pointed out that adding a strict limit on building height would also make town citizens more amenable to the bylaw amendment. The current draft includes a statement that specifies a maximum height of 37 feet, though developers would be able to receive a special permit from the town that has no strict upper bound.

Members of the Board also agreed that they would like to see some level of compliance with accessibility rules mandated in the amendment. They did not, however, agree on a way to implement solutions to these issues. There is currently a statement in the draft that requires all units meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, or are adaptable to do so.


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