By Dot Bergin
Hearing Continued to August 30
Given that nearly every home on Fox Run Road sports a “Stop Fox Run Road Development” sign, it is no surprise that some 50 residents turned out on August 3 for a Planning Board public hearing on the proposed Planned Residential Development (PRD) for Fox Run and Buehler Road.
Technically, the hearing was for the 614-616 Springs Road/10 Green Street (off Fox Run and Buehler) PRD with 13 units comprised of cottages and larger houses, located on two separate streets. The existing home at 614 Springs Road has been purchased by the developer and would be retained as part of the project. Plans may be viewed on the Planning Board web site: https://bit.ly/2b6puqD.
Planning Board Chair Jeff Cohen introduced Brian DeVellis, attorney and landscape architect, who made a presentation on behalf of the developer, David Bernstein. Both Bernstein and DeVellis are longtime residents of Bedford.
DeVellis began by reviewing the many informal meetings he has held, both individually and collectively, with Fox Run residents to respond to their concerns and questions about the project. He has also met with various town officials and committees – the Planning staff, DPW, Conservation Commission, etc., -and has conducted a site walk with the Conservation Commission. As currently configured, the Fox Run development would include nine houses, of which two would be affordable units. The units would have a first floor master bedroom and bath and two bedrooms on the second floor. Approximate size would be 2,000 Sq. ft. Asked about the price, DeVellis would only speculate “$800,000.”
Three homes of approximately 3,000 sq. ft. are proposed for Buehler Road.
Following DeVellis, the Chair recognized attorney Robert Annese, also a Bedford resident, who spoke on behalf of five Fox Run Road homeowners. Annese outlined his clients’ major concerns – concerns that were echoed by many of the speakers who followed Annese to the microphone. They include:
Additional houses will change the character of the neighborhood. “Fox Run has always been a tranquil area; many have lived on the street for 50 years.”
Traffic is now a major issue, as drivers are using Fox Run as a “cut-through” road off Springs Road to travel north to Concord Road. This has intensified recently following the town of Billerica’s action in repaving and straightening the intersection of Springs and Concord roads.
The existing properties are already damp. Many have water in their basements now and this would be exacerbated with the addition of more housing units.
The water pressure is very low in the area and complaints to the DPW have not resulted in any amelioration. Adding more housing could only make this problem worse. Could the developers put up a bond or issue some assurance to homeowners that their properties would not be adversely affected?
Although many speakers presented emotionally-charged arguments against the PRD, the tone of the evening was courteous and all those wishing to be heard were recognized by the Chair. Residents of Buehler Road asked for a scaled-down development on their street. The proposed three homes are larger than the existing ones. Several questioned how the two projects-Buehler and Fox Run- could be considered as one. Practical concerns such as snow storage and trash removal were mentioned, given that the Buehler Road homes would be on a cul-de-sac.
One resident reported that in an earlier meeting with homeowners DeVellis and Bernstein referred to the Fox Run houses as senior housing for those who wished to downsize. At last night’s meeting, DeVellis said that first-time buyers/young families are identified as a potential market along with seniors. As several speakers pointed out, the layout for the first floor of the homes includes a den that might be used by a first-time buyer as another bedroom. This led to the request from the Board for a projection of the number of school age children that might move into the neighborhood. DeVellis agreed to do further study to pin down this number more concretely.
Planning Board members had a number of other comments and questions. Although the Board favors PRDs because of the amenities such as more open space that can be gained, as opposed to conventional housing of one house on one lot, member Lisa Mustapich thought the density was too high for the property. Member Amy Lloyd commented that the size of the Fox Run homes at 2,000 sq. feet was good but she was not pleased with the size of the Buehler Road homes. Member Sean Hanegan asked the developer to show an alternative to a PRD. Chair Cohen observed that two neighborhoods are being treated as one PRD.
As shown by the high turnout at the public hearing, the Fox Run Road PRD is an ongoing, and fairly complex, issue. DeVellis took copious notes of questions raised and will come back before the Board on August 30 for a continuation of the public hearing