Controversial senior living facility proposal withdrawn in Pepperell

High construction costs too pricey for senior living facility

A rendering of the proposed Rivers Edge Senior Living facility in Ayer

PEPPERELL – Plans for a private senior living facility on Mill Street have been withdrawn due to anticipated high costs of construction, its proponents said.

It was announced at the Conservation Commission meeting on Sept. 17 that Doug and Michelle Wright had requested their plans for Rivers Edge Senior Living be withdrawn from both the commission and the Planning Board.

Mr. Wright confirmed he and his wife’s request for withdrawal in a recent email. The plans were set to be brought back before the Planning Board on Oct. 7 after a public hearing on Aug. 26 was kept open for more discussion.

Planning Board Assistant Brynn Montesanti said that the board approved a plan to subdivide the lot on 42 to 46 Mill Street into two lots during its meeting on Sept. 23. She added that the Wrights’ request to withdrawn their plans cannot be accepted until the public hearing is reopened on Oct. 7.

The Wrights were looking to build a three-building complex on 42 to 46 Mill Street totaling a little over 65,000-square-feet in size containing numerous studio, one and two-bedroom apartments. If approved, the complex would’ve been built in three separate phases dependent on the admittance numbers over a four-year period.

The proposal had faced criticism from the Conservation Commission, the Planning Board and local residents for its lack of environmental detail, poor layout of its emergency access road and how its size would stick out in the neighborhood.

“The cost of construction and site work has gone up about 35 percent since we started working on the project,” Mr. Wright said. “Also the additional demands of the [Environmental Protection Agency] asking us to provide storm water drainage as if we were in a water supply protection area, which we are not, would have added substantial additional costs for drainage systems and curbing as well. In short we can no longer afford to do the project on this site.”

Wright said that he and Michelle are putting a farmhouse that sits on the property up for sale. He also wants to ask the Planning Board permission to build a duplex on however much of the lot remains after the subdivision.

“We built a similar duplex on High Street two years ago and it features two-and-a-half baths, a one car garage, first floor laundry, a large first floor master suite and two additional bedrooms on the second floor,” Doug said.

As for Rivers Edge, Mr. Wright said that he and Michelle could “possibly look for a new location and do a smaller scale facility in the future.”