Planning Board Hears Details for North Road/Carlisle Road Housing Development

February 10, 2022

A local landscape architect hopes his ambitious plan for scores of wide-ranging types of housing units on almost 50 acres of land north of Carlisle Road will start to materialize as soon as the fall.

Brian DeVellis returned to the Planning Board this week with details on a development he introduced as a concept last summer. The board’s initial reaction ranged from favorable to enthusiastic.

DeVellis said he has formed a limited liability corporation with a member of the Kazarian family for the development of two tracts, already demarcated to avoid wetlands.

A 14-acre parcel, not far from the intersection of Routes 4 and 225, would accommodate two buildings for “co-housing.” Farther west, plans call for a mix of single-family, townhouse, duplex, and apartment structures on 35 acres. Both lots are about 50 percent developable, he said.

At least 25 percent of the units would enhance the town’s affordable housing inventory because DeVellis is seeking approval as a local initiative project (LIP), also known as a “friendly 40B.” Under the state law known as Chapter 40B, complexes with a 25 percent affordable component can bypass local zoning and go directly to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a comprehensive permit.

Towns and cities with more than 10 percent of their housing designated affordable are exempt from this process. But they can still employ it, with approval from the Select Board, as a way to enhance affordable options.

DeVellis referenced the 2019 town housing study and said his plan addresses eight objectives: a mix of housing options, energy-efficient housing, racial and ethnic diversity, townhouses, senior and age-restricted housing, accessible units, accessory apartments, and rental options. He told the Planning Board that “you’re probably not going to have this chance again” to address so many points.
He pointed out that he could build eight or nine houses with frontage on Carlisle Road by right.

A former long-time Bedford resident who is also an attorney, DeVellis has been a major force in local projects for many years, including The Edge Sports Center on Hartwell Road and the residential streets Sweeney Ridge Road and Hosmer Way.

He told the planning board he began discussions with the Kazarians four years ago; the land fanning northwesterly from the Routes 4 and 225 fork has been owned by the family for generations. The Northside convenience store was built by Steve Kazarian, who named it Gammy’s to honor his mother.

Tuesday’s session was the latest in a series of informational presentations on the proposal. The development team, including engineers and architects, spoke to the Council on Aging Board and the Housing Partnership and secured wetland delineations from the Conservation Commission. DeVellis also has had talks with Margot Fleishman, chair of the Select Board, and State Senator Mike Barrett. He has also written to abutters and the police, fire, and code enforcement departments.

The team plans to hold neighborhood meetings, attempting to balance the needs and concerns of the neighbors and the overall needs and concerns of the town.

DeVellis said a LIP is “a negotiated 40B with the Select Board. “I look at it as a partnership—it makes sense. How many of these items that the town is looking for can we check the boxes on?” And those can be refined with discussions, he said, even mentioning the concept of finding a use for state and community preservation funds.

At Tuesday’s virtual meeting, he presented a conceptual design of the larger parcel, with single-family houses fronting on the street, consistent with the character of Carlisle Road. Behind would be townhouses, duplexes, and apartments, including a three-story residence for the elderly.

The development team, he said, spent time considering the appearance and atmosphere of the area, asking, “What does it feel like to walk through the community?” Their vision is “a place that’s dominated by pedestrians, where people get out and meet their neighbors.” The plan features a meetinghouse, and “pocket parks.”

He also called it an “age-in-place community, where conceivably someone could begin as a renter, move into a single-family house with three bedrooms, and ultimately relocate into an accessible senior apartment.

DeVellis described the two L-shaped buildings on the smaller, eastern parcel as possible co-housing residences—private bedrooms with shared kitchens and living space. The arrangement is “essentially for younger or older persons,” he said, comparing it to “a really expensive dorm at my daughter’s school.” He emphasized the value of the outside space between the two buildings as enhancing community experiences.

He acknowledged that there are many specific topics to be addressed: a “pro forma” detailed cost breakdown, with a market study; a traffic impact study, specifics on density and unit count. For now, “We want to lay out a pathway for a LIP. that would take into account the various boards.”

Financially, he said, he is “99 percent sure this would work at 25 percent (affordable).” He said he is still trying to figure out the co-housing component, which is more experimental “We don’t see this on the marketplace.”

DeVellis also said he is “fairly confident we can make drainage infrastructure work.” He envisions a sidewalk and bicycle lane on the north side of Carlisle Road and feels the proposal is poised to help reinvigorate the North Road-Carlisle Road commercial zone. Architect Jeremy Baldwin detailed universal design and sustainable energy concepts.

“I love where you’re going with this,” said board member Jacinda Barbehenn. Her colleague Chris Gittins said, “My initial reaction is positive.” Steve Hagan added that the plans are far preferable to the construction of eight “McMansions.”

Other endorsements during the meeting came from Council on Aging board chair Sandra Hackman and Christina Wilgren, chair of the Housing Partnership. Wilgren also called for more affordable ownership opportunities.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763

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Johnathan Hotchmann
February 16, 2022 9:50 am

This is the same guy that rammed the Fox Run development (Hosmer Way) through the approval process despite vehement and widespread opposition from all neighborhoods along the entirety of Springs Rd. It resulted in an out-of-place cramped development of McMansions off of a previously idyllic street.

This guy is an aggressive and greedy developer. The only goal here is to make money, probably to pay for that “expensive dorm” at his kid’s school. There is zero interest in doing what’s best for the town, and of course our planning board eats up all the ridiculous and unrealistic pie-in-the-sky vision for this development like “an age-in-place community, where conceivably someone could begin as a renter, move into a single-family house with three bedrooms, and ultimately relocate into an accessible senior apartment.”

Linda Kovitch
February 14, 2022 11:36 am

I happen to abut the properties which are involved in the above article. I would VERY much like to know what considerations and mitigations are being planned for with the increase in traffic on route 225 which will result from this development? What counter measures to the increased carbon dioxide and other emissions which will result in the already heavy traffic on this road? What will be done with respect to the altered water run off and drainage which will result from these buildings be added? What is being done for the wildlife which resides in this woodland area? What about all of the natural habit losses when these mature trees are removed with respect to local air quality, excessive heating generated by all of the paving which will be added which will also alter the already excessive amounts water in the wetlands parts of this properties which drain to the river? One thing affects another as they are all interconnected. You can NOT alter one piece of land without impacting all of which surrounds it and everything that lives in it and around it.
I have NEVER heard or seen anyone EVER mention the impact of construction relative to the local air quality, the impact on local climate, the wildlife population when these projects come up. WHY don’t these things MATTER? WHY aren’t they discussed, and mitigations planned for? Why is ok to reek this mayhem without considering ALL of the consequences? WHY is always about the MONEY?

Hugh Knapp
February 11, 2022 9:42 am

“This is a great idea” said all the members of the planning board that live nowhere near proposed development.

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