Memory Care, Montessori School at Wilder Get Planners’ OK

(Contributed Graphic)
A 3D render of the proposed Countryhouse Memory Care facility.

    Countryhouse Memory Care, a 38-bed facility, and Montessori Impressions Academy passed muster from the Planning Commission July 14, and barring any appeals, general use permits will be issued.
    Jatinder Kaur, former director of Fountainhead Montessori in Orinda, plans to occupy Studio 4 at the Wilder Arts and Garden Center weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Maximum student capacity is 30 in addition to four teachers. Kaur received praise from several parents whose youngsters attended her school in the past.
    “This is a huge benefit in our community,” said Susan Wright.
    Wilder homeowner Kathy Finch wanted to make sure resident children would have access to the adjacent playground while school was in session. “Wilder did not know about this,” she said. “This is why you don’t have comments from us.”
    Roxanne Christof expressed concerns about the center’s bathrooms being “open to the public while sharing with babies from the Montessori school.” She questioned why the school application was not brought up previously with the Wilder sub-committee.
    Kaur responded to the concerns, stating Studio 4 will be available for rent in the evenings and weekends and even if the playground is required to be fenced, it will always be available to the public.
    The Commission approved a three-year use permit with an annual review for the school.
    Countryhouse Memory Care, a one-to two-story, 32,084 square-foot congregate care project with 38 beds to be built at 1 Wilder Road, received unanimous approval despite opposition from several residents.
    Senior Planner Adam Foster said the site is in a public semipublic (PS) zone and is not subject to Wilder standards as a planned development.
    This was echoed by Planning Director Drummond Buckley and the applicant Emmanuel Ursu, who said Wilder design guidelines do not apply to the project.
    Shona Armstrong, an attorney for the Wilder Owners Association, said the developer “weaseled out of consistency of the General Plan… and it does not comply as a congregate care facility.” There is no evacuation plan which “seems to be swept under the rug,” she said.
    Ben Zarrin, a developer and Wilder resident since 2013 said, “Treat the Wilder community and applicant the same.”
    Several residents stated a memory care facility is needed, but “not at this location.”
    One condition of approval is this will be a complete memory care, not an assisted living facility.
    “A memory care facility addresses a need in Orinda and Lamorinda,” said Commissioner Ann Parnigoni. “It is needed in our community.”

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