By Eliza Rosenberry
A much-debated Planned Residential Development (PRD) on Fox Run Road is finally moving forward. In a unanimous vote at their December 20 meeting, the Planning Board approved developer David Bernstein’s proposal to build seven new houses on a property off Fox Run and Buehler Roads.
The project was first presented more than four months ago at an August 3 Planning Board hearing.
Groundbreaking on the development is likely to occur this spring. First, Bernstein and his attorney Brian DeVellis need to appear before the Billerica Planning Board because part of the property extends across the town line. DeVellis said he expects to provide final plans to the Bedford Planning Board for signing in January.
According to documents submitted by Bernstein, the new private road to be constructed off Fox Run will be known as Hosmer Way, the family name of former property owners. The development will include five single family homes on Hosmer and two on Buehler, as well as an existing house on the property to be kept for low and middle income residents.
Approximately seven acres of the property will be deeded to the town for conservation, DeVellis said. From the end of Hosmer Way, a public bicycle and pedestrian path will connect to the Narrow Gauge Rail Trail.
The approval comes after six public hearings and months of negotiations, noteworthy for the developer’s significant compromises with neighbors on housing density and other design elements.
“I think the back-and-forth between [the developer] and the neighbors has resulted in what will be a more desirable neighborhood,” said Board member Lisa Mustapich.
But Board member Amy Lloyd suggested the negotiation process may have given neighbors disproportionate influence.
“I think the developer and the Board have bent over backwards to accommodate the neighborhood in a way I’m not so certain that we should have,” Lloyd said.
More than a dozen residents attended the final hearing, and some continued to push back on aspects of the final plan, including landscaping and street lights.
Following the vote, Chair Jeff Cohen read a list of conditions to the Board’s approval, primarily requiring the developer to conform to the PRD bylaw and to update final plans with minor changes as requested by the town. Conditions also request “limited amounts of cut-and-fill,” with the intent of minimizing the development’s effect on what is a wooded neighborhood environment.
This PRD is unusual because it includes two entirely separate development areas; it also consists exclusively of single family houses, despite the zoning bylaw’s requirement that not all dwellings can be “buildings of the same type.”
Editor’s Note: Follow this story as it developed in The Bedford Citizen: