Age-Friendly Community Planning

AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities

AARP poster showing aspects of a "livable community"In July of 2017, Stow and the other towns of the Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination (MAGIC), as well as the Town of Westford, convened a forum to determine priorities for age-friendly planning efforts as part of an application to join the AARP's network of Age-Friendly Communities. This regional collaborative has elected to focus age-friendly planning efforts on housing and transportation, while also striving to further respect and social inclusion, social participation, and clear lines of communication between residents and officials. 

The Town of Stow is expected to see a significant increase in the over-65 population over the coming years, and membership in this national network will allow for proactive planning to meet the unique needs of these older adults. By cooperating with our neighbors in the MAGIC subregion, we can ensure that Stow remains a place for residents of all ages to lead stable, engaged, and healthy lives. 

Local Efforts

The Town of Stow updated its Housing Production Plan in 2016. This update found that the population of adults over the age of 65 continues to grow, and that the Town should prioritize housing strategies that allow for older adults to age in place in their current home or downsize to something smaller within town. The plan highlighted a lack of diversity in Stow's housing stock as a significant barrier to providing these options.

Advancing Age-Friendly Housing Diversity

In 2002, the Town of Stow adopted the Active Adult Neighborhood (AAN) overlay zoning district to address some of these issues. To date, two 66-unit age-restricted communities have been developed within this overlay. However, the number of units that could be built in this district was restricted in the original bylaw.  The Planning Board has introduced an updated Active Adult Neighborhood Overlay District Zoning Bylaw for consideration at the May 22, 2021 Annual Town Meeting.  The bylaw update would expand and improve the Town's diversity of housing by creating age-targeted, walkable communities. Please refer to the Active Adult Neighborhood Planning Effort page for more information about the proposed changes to the AAN.

Expanding Transportation Options

Stow and its surrounding communities have long suffered from limited public transit options, creating largely car-dependent lifestyle options. Solutions must address needs for older adult mobility, particularly for those that do not drive cars. Stow's Council on Aging currently offers a shuttle service for residents 60 and over as well as residents with mobility challenges. The service is supported by the Montachusett Regional Transportation Authority and offers rides to ten neighboring towns.

The GO Stow! Taxi Rides Program is a new, grant funded Pilot Project administered by the Council on Aging and the Planning Department that offers free rides to qualifying participants, including older adults, those with mobility impairments, the financially insecure and veterans.  GO Stow! will offer rides through participating taxi services. For more information about registering for the service, follow this link!

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