By Dot Bergin
Although a mere handful of residents turned out for the Page Place Neighborhood meeting in the Bedford Public Library on February 23, those who attended had a first look at a “concept plan” showing how the proposed 12 new condominium units and five garage buildings might be situated on the property.
And there was an opportunity for a dialog with Jeffrey Rhuda, Business Development Manager for Symes Associates, the firm selected for the expansion project.Symes developed and built Prescott Farms in Bedford.
(For background on the proposed Page Place expansion, which requires a Zoning Bylaw change to be approved at the March Town Meeting, see these recent Citizen articles:
David Fournier, Page Place Trustee, opened the meeting by outlining the need for additional units and garages on the existing property. The lack of garages, he explained, has been an issue literally since Page Place opened 30 years ago. Today, more than half the owners are over 70 years of age; for some who live at the rear of the property there is a walk of 200 yards to reach their cars in the open parking lot.
Fournier said adding new units would help increase property values for existing owners; these values have not increased in 10 years. (By current Bedford standards, Page Place condominiums are moderately priced in the mid $300,000s. A recent unit sold for $410,000,Trustees reported.) The new units would be priced in the $600,000 to $650,000 range.
Fournier then turned the meeting over to developer Rhuda, who showed a slide – an artist’s concept, and as Rhuda emphasized repeatedly, “not a finished plan” – that indicated one way in which the new units could be positioned on the site. Currently, the proposed number of new units has been reduced to 12: three, two-bedroom units and two, three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 1900 to 2100 square feet. All units would have a master bedroom on the first floor; some would have another master on the second floor along with a loft and storage space. There would not be a central garage but rather, smaller bays, five in number, positioned around the property so that residents in all parts of the main building would have more convenient access to their cars. The new units would each have a two-car attached garage. The existing 76 space open parking lot, which is in need of repair, would be demolished. There would still be 31 outdoor parking spaces.
Abutters who were present raised a number of concerns, which included increased traffic entering and exiting the property on an already greatly overcrowded Page Road; increased footprint of the building; possible unit density, since as one realtor (and abutter) pointed out, there would be no way to prevent a buyer from turning the loft and storage areas into additional bedrooms, and desire for public access to walking trails.
Pamela Brown, representing Page Place Trustees, emphasized to concerned abutters that there are a number of steps before the expansion project could come to fruition. First, the Zoning Bylaw amendment must be approved by Town Meeting; then the Planning Board comes into the process and can impose many conditions on a residential project before construction actually begins.
Other concerns were a general worry that the town is becoming overbuilt, with resulting loss of woodland for wild animal habitat. Although the Page Place spokespersons said that only 25 percent of existing owners have children, several residents expressed about the possibility of adding more children when Bedford schools are already experiencing overcrowding.
The Bedford Planning Board will hold a public hearing on Page Place on March 2, at 7:30pm in the Second Floor Conference Room, Town Hall, to discuss the text of the zoning article.